Subway to test-market plant-based ‘meatball’ subs

Fast-food chain, Beyond Meat partner on new product

beyond meatball sub
U.S. meat substitute processor Beyond Meat is testing its products in meatball style in Subway's Beyond Meatball sub. (CNW Group/Subway Restaurants)

The world’s biggest fast food chain by number of outlets plans to test-market plant-based meat substitute at some of its Canadian and U.S. restaurants starting next month.

Subway on Wednesday announced a “culinary innovation partnership” with Los Angeles-based processor Beyond Meat, beginning with a “Beyond Meatball Marinara” submarine sandwich to be tested at 685 Canadian and U.S. outlets for a “limited time” starting in September.

The chain’s partnership with Beyond Meat “brings together dedicated culinary teams from both brands to explore new plant-based protein offerings,” the company said in a release.

Len Van Popering, Subway’s chief brand and innovation officer, described the Beyond Meatball as a “co-developed product that can’t be found anywhere else.”

The Connecticut-based chain didn’t say exactly where in the U.S. or Canada it will test the new product, but this rollout would go to just a small fraction of the chain’s 40,000-plus outlets worldwide, which include over 24,100 in the U.S. and over 3,100 in Canada.

While the sandwich chain has previously offered subs with vegan and vegetarian veggie patties from other sources in limited release at some of its stores, Beyond Meat’s CEO Ethan Brown, in the same release Wednesday, said the company “look(s) forward to a long-term partnership with Subway.”

A full rollout through Subway, if achieved, would be a significant expansion of reach for Beyond Meat, which today offers fresh and frozen plant-based proteins in patties, sausages and ground “meat” through over 53,000 retail and foodservice outlets worldwide.

In the Canadian market, Beyond Meat in April launched its Beyond Burgers at retail grocery chains nationwide including Loblaws, Sobeys, Save On Foods, Whole Foods and Co-op stores.

The U.S. company’s Beyond Burger patties, sausage and other fare have also made their way in recent months onto various Canadian dining and fast-food chains’ menus including those of Tim Hortons, A+W, Earl’s, White Spot, Panago Pizza, Quesada, Mucho Burrito, La Prep and Leopold’s Tavern, among others.

Ingredients in Beyond Meat’s products include pea, mung bean and rice protein as well as coconut oil and cocoa butter for “marbling” and beets for a red beef-like colour in their uncooked form.

Other major fast-food chains are also testing meat-substitute sandwiches in some markets, such as Burger King’s Impossible Whopper in the U.S., KFC’s Imposter Burger in the U.K. and McDonald’s soy-based burgers in Germany. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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