Unilever expands deal with Burger King to launch meat-free Whopper in Latin America, China

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(Reuters) – Unilever (NYSE:UL) Plc said on Wednesday it had expanded its partnership with Burger King to supply its plant-based meat patties for Whopper burgers at restaurants in Latin America, the Caribbean and China.

The product, which will be called the Plant-based Whopper on menus, is made using patties from Vegetarian Butcher, a company Unilever acquired in 2019.

The deal is an expansion of the Dove soap to Hellmann’s mayonnaise maker’s partnership with the fast-food chain that started last year with the launch of the Rebel Whopper burger in Europe , Burger King’s biggest ever product launch in the region.

Burger King sells several meat-free versions of its popular Whopper burger, including one from Impossible Meats in the United States.

Unilever said the Plant-based Whopper would appear on menus in 325 Burger King outlets in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou in China, with plans to expand its rollout nationwide in the second quarter of 2021.

The burger – made from ingredients including soy, wheat, vegetable oil, herbs and onion – already launched in Mexico on Nov. 30.

Launches in other Latin American and Caribbean markets such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Suriname, Saint Maarten and Saint Kitts have been taking place over the last couple of weeks, Unilever said.

The Plant-based Whopper is expected to be priced similarly to its beef counterpart in these markets, though prices may vary between franchises.

The move underscores Unilever’s efforts to strengthen its foothold in the exploding market for plant-based food, which has seen a surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barclays (LON:BARC) analysts predict that the alternative meat industry will become a $140 billion market over the next decade.

It also comes just weeks after the London-based consumer goods conglomerate set a 1 billion euro sales target from its plant-based meat and dairy products over the next five to seven years.