Grocery store giant Publix just announced its store brand’s first vegan chicken, launching the new product across its more than 1,200 locations. The United States’ largest employee-owned grocery company launched its GreenWise Chickenless Tenderless this week, providing consumers nationwide with the store’s inaugural plant-based chicken product.  The plant-based chicken consists of a pea-protein base, flavored to replicate conventional animal-based chicken tenders. The new vegan product is completely soy- and gluten-free.

“Customers are requesting more plant-based options to incorporate into their diets,” Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous said. “By developing these meatless products under our trusted private-label GreenWise brand, we are offering our customers high-quality options to support their lifestyle.”

Publix decided to launch its vegan chicken tenders due to the rising demand for plant-based proteins across every market sector. As shoppers begin searching for more plant-based proteins, the grocery store chain aims to meet the rapidly rising demand. Publix’s Greenwise brand released a Meatless Burger earlier this year to begin its vegan shift. The chain also noted it plans to continue this development, expanding its plant-based offerings in the company’s future.

The Greenwise VeganChicken Tenders contain 100 percent plant-based ingredients including fava bean protein, pea fiber, canola oil, and natural flavorings. The new recipe boasts 11 grams of protein, ensuring that its customers receive a proper nutritional value when purchasing and consuming this new product.

The grocery store company attributed this new campaign to the spiking plant-based protein market, which is experience unprecedented growth over recent years. A study released last year from Plant-Based Foods Association [PBFA] and Good Food Institute [GFI] found that the retail sales of plant-based products reached $7 billion in the US for the first time. The report continued by detailing that plant-based meat sales grew 45 percent between 2019 and 2020, from $962 million to $1.4 billion. This increase saw that 63 percent more shoppers became categorized as “high-repeat” plant-based customers.

“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift as an ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that taste good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet,” Senior Director of Retail Partnerships of PBFA Julie Emmett said.

Publix follows the example of competing retailers, which have released plant-based products through store brands. Earlier this year, Target unveiled its Good & Gather Plant-Based line, featuring more than 30 plant-based products across 10 food categories. The massive rollout provided shoppers with new plant-based options in categories including creamers, salad dressings, spreads, meat alternatives, and more.

Last year, rival grocery chain Kroger debuted 50 new products within its private-labeled vegan line Simple Truth. The new products ranged from cheese slices and shreds to oat milk-based ice creams. Other products included vegan chicken in both grounds and patties, cauliflower-based dips in buffalo, tzatziki, and spicy queso flavors, and more. The Simple Truth line already featured vegan products such as meatless burger patties, deli slices, sausage, alfredo pasta sauce, cookie dough, and sour cream.

Vegan companies also started developing plant-based chicken products over the last year. Plant-based tech companies including Beyond Meat and Daring have debuted vegan chicken products to match consumer demand. Earlier this year, Beyond Meat distributed its Beyond Chicken Tenders to more than 400 restaurants across the United States to bring consumers the highly anticipated meat alternative.

​​“We’re innovating the poultry market with the new Beyond Chicken Tenders - the result of our tireless pursuit for excellence and growth at Beyond Meat,” Chief Innovation Officer at Beyond Meat Dariush Ajami said at the time. “As with all our products, Beyond Chicken Tenders offer delicious taste and an exceptional culinary experience, along with strong nutritional benefits. Innovation is at the heart of Beyond Meat, and Beyond Chicken Tenders are the latest example of our mission to create groundbreaking, tasty options that are better for people and for our planet.”

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