Pizza Hut partners with Kellogg's to test 'Incogmeato' plant-based sausage


Pizza Hut is officially diving into the plant-based protein craze.

The pizza chain is partnering with food giant Kellogg (K) to test a plant-based pizza topping at a Phoenix location for a limited time starting Wednesday, October 23. The Garden Specialty Pizza will feature Kellogg’s Incogmeato plant-based Italian sausages, onions, mushrooms and banana peppers.

“Incogmeato is a new-to-the-world brand created to challenge convention on delicious plant based food,” Kellogg Away from Home President Wendy Davidson said in a statement. “Pizza Hut is the innovation leader in its category and we are excited to partner with them to develop a tasty, first-ever plant-based pizza to satisfy what flexitarians are seeking today.”

Pizza Hut's Garden Specialty Pizza (Courtesy of Pizza Hut)
Pizza Hut's Garden Specialty Pizza (Courtesy of Pizza Hut)

Pizza Hut is also looking to go green by testing a round pizza box that contains less packaging and is industrially compostable. The initiative is in partnership with Zume, a company looking to create a sustainable food environment. Pizza Hut said following its initial test in Phoenix, it plans to look at ways to launch the round box widely in the near future.

“This revolutionary round box—the result of a two-year journey—is the most innovative packaging we’ve rolled out to date,” Pizza Hut’s Chief Customer & Operations Officer Nicolas Burquier said in a statement. “The round box was engineered to make our products taste even better—by delivering hotter, crispier pizzas. This box is a win, win—it will improve the pizza-eating experience for our customers and simplify the operating experience for our team members.”

The new Garden Specialty Pizza in the round box will cost $10 and will be sold in-store only. The new products come on the heels of Pizza Hut and Kellogg’s first collaboration with the Cheez-It Stuffed Pizza in September.

Pizza Hut, a Yum Brands (YUM) company, has been failing to impress investors as sales have been struggling over recent quarters. Competition in the fast-food industry has been stiff, and companies have been ramping up innovation to appeal to consumers. This past year has been an epic one for the fast-casual space.

Alternative meat craze

Beyond Meat (BYND) kicked off the alternative-meat frenzy when it hit public markets in early May. Investors piled into the stock, and shares skyrocketed after pricing at $25 at the time of its IPO. The stock has soared 340% since going public, as of Monday’s close. Large-cap fast-food chains started partnering with Beyond Meat and its competitor Impossible Foods in order to appeal to a wider consumer base that was looking for a more sustainable alternative to real meat.

Monday, Dunkin’ (DNKN) announced that it was rolling out its Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches to all 9,000 of its U.S. stores beginning November 6, after a successful test period in Dunkin’s New York City stores. McDonald’s (MCD) is testing out Beyond Meat burgers in some stores in Canada, while Burger King (QSR) launched the Impossible Whopper nationwide in August. While Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods aren’t the only players in the alternative-meat space, they are certainly the biggest names for now. Nestle recently announced that it was also jumping into the game with its Awesome Burger, and grocery giant Kroger announced that it would also be making a private-label line of plant-based items.

Many Wall Street analysts have noted that the plant-based meat market has long-term growth potential. “Consumers are increasingly drawn to plant-based alternatives given rising concerns for health, environmental considerations, and sustainability,” Wells Fargo noted in a recent October 11 note. “We expect that outsized growth will continue for plant-based products, both in the U.S. and globally, and as such, the theme should be a focal point for investors – not only for the impact of disruption to the existing state of affairs but also for new opportunities in an industry challenged for growth.”

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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