A new kind of chicken war: Kellogg's MorningStar Farms unveils plant-based tenders

Kellogg's (K) MorningStar Farms is set to enter the chicken wars — but with a decidedly different kind of entree.

On Tuesday, the company announced its plans to release plant-based Chik'n Tenders, an item that will be offered in original and sweet BBQ flavors, later this month in grocery stores nationwide. The product will be at select locations of Walmart (WMT), Kroger (KR) and other regional chains.

According to the company, the "captures the feel of tear-apart chicken tenders thanks to technology that creates fibers to mimic the texture of real chicken."

"Our new Incogmeato Chik’n Tenders are a game changing experience for the flexitarian chicken-loving consumer who wants to try plant-based, but isn’t finding an option that stacks up to the real thing,” the company said in the release.

“Chik’n is a huge opportunity to recruit flexitarian eaters to the meatless category," it added.

MorningStar's product sits at the intersection of two escalating battles involving meat. Over the last couple of years, fast food giants have been locked in an all-out war with chicken sandwiches as the weapon of choice. Meanwhile, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (BYND) fight for dominance in the hot alternative food space, with their products increasingly making their way onto fast food menus.

MorningStar also noted the chicken tenders will be provided to foodservice operators across the country through distributors, in order to meet "strong consumer demand for plant-based options in restaurants."

In 2019, the global plant-based meat market was valued at $11.1 billion dollars and according to Polaris Market Research it is expected to grow at a rate of of 15.8% during 2020-2027 to a market size of $35.4 billion dollars.

The faux-chicken tenders arrive at a time when the chicken sandwich wars are as fierce as ever. On Monday, fast-casual chain restaurant Smashburger announced the release of a spicy chicken sandwich — but called for the warring parties to "leave the battles behind."

However, there seems to be no end in sight. Since Popeye's (QSR) released its chicken sandwich back in 2019 to compete with Chick-fil-A's iconic sandwich, fast food giants have worked to release new chicken menu items at a dizzying pace, hoping for similar success. 

The ever lengthening list includes McDonald's (MCD),Taco Bell (YUM), KFC, Wendy's (WEN), Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s and Shake Shack (SHAK).

Shares of Kellogg's closed at $63.70 on Monday after the bell. 

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at [email protected]

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