'We've never been a follower': Behind Arby's decision to say 'no' to meatless menu items

"We have the meat substitutes" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

ATLANTA: Arby’s has the meats and wants to keep it that way.

The chain is making it definitively clear that it is not jumping on the meatless meat trend.

After a few media reports this week hinted that Arby’s is interested in working with Impossible Foods, Arby’s executives knew they needed to do more than just correct those stories, said CMO Jim Taylor.

"Arby’s needed to defend our purpose and identity," he said.

Instead of debuting in 1964 with a menu of hamburgers like other chains, Arby’s opened its doors with a 69-cent roast beef sandwich. That’s evidence, Taylor said, that the chain has "never been a follower."

"So while it feels like every brand in our category is announcing a new meatless menu item lately, we’re going to continue being ourselves," he said. "Arby’s is America’s home for the meats and a champion for those who love eating meat as much as we do – and we’re proud of that."

Food & Wine, Fortune and Fox Business are among the outlets that have reported on Arby’s stance this week.

Meanwhile, McDonald's, Burger King, White Castle and Little Caesars are among the chains that have partnerships with Impossible Foods.

The meatless burger craze has gotten so big that there have been Impossible Burger shortages in the U.S. The global market for meat substitutes is expected to grow from an estimated $4.6 billion in 2018 to $6.4 billion by 2023, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

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