A+W to launch pulseburger next month

A+W’s Beyond Meat Burger. (A+W/CNW Group)

Canada’s second-biggest burger chain plans to roll out a new non-meat burger in the Canadian market starting in July.

A+W Food Services of Canada on Thursday announced a July 9 release date for what it’s dubbed the Beyond Meat Burger at all its restaurants across the country, in what CEO Susan Senecal called “the fastest new-product launch in our history.”

The new sandwich’s protein patties will be supplied by Los Angeles-area processor Beyond Meat, whose Beyond Beef burger lines are made with pea protein.

The supply deal with A+W makes the 925-outlet burger chain the “largest restaurant partner yet” for Beyond Meat, which today sells its Beyond Beef and Beyond Chicken burgers, sausages, strips and beef-style crumble for tacos and sauces through major retail grocery chains across the U.S.

Beyond Meat — which lists Tyson Foods, the Humane Society of the United States, Bill Gates, Biz Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio among its investors — last month announced plans to launch its product lines into 50 additional markets including Canada, the European Union, Australia and Korea among others.

Working with A+W “is a tremendous step forward for Beyond Meat and, correspondingly, consumers who are seeking broader access to healthy and sustainable options for the center of the plate,” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said in A+W’s release.

“When we tried the Beyond Meat Burger we were amazed with how great it tasted and knew we had to be the first national burger chain to bring it to Canadians across the country,” Senecal said Thursday in a release.

While Beyond Meat, on its website, describes its products as “100 per cent” vegan, A+W cautioned on its site that while its Beyond Meat burger is 100 per cent plant-based, all of the chain’s burger patties, including its beef patties, will still be cooked on the same grills, and its mayonnaise and Uncle sauce are made with eggs.

The chain, which already offers a Veggie Deluxe Burger made from vegetables and portobello mushrooms, stressed it remains “passionate about serving great beef.” It billed the Beyond Meat Burger as “great for all the vegetarians, flexitarians and even meat eaters who want more plant-based options in their diet.”

Beyond Meat describes its Beyond Beef product as “100 per cent pea protein,” in the form of pea protein isolates, assembled using a proprietary system applying heat, cooling and pressure to align plant proteins “in the same fibrous structures that you’d find in animal proteins.”

A+W, on its website, lists its burger’s ingredients as including yellow peas, providing “most of the protein,” plus coconut oil, pomegranate, potato, apple, rice, beet for colour and mung bean for texture.

Other ingredients Beyond Meat lists in its burger patties include amaranth, “expeller-pressed” canola oil, soy fibre, carrot fibre, dipotassium phosphate, caramel colouring, yeast extract and proprietary beef flavouring.

The A+W chain in recent years has sought to position itself as providing ingredients “farmed with care,” including beef from cattle “raised without the use of hormones or steroids,” chicken and pork “raised without the use of antibiotics” and chicken and eggs from layer hens fed a “vegetarian diet without animal byproducts.” It recently rolled out a “wild-caught cod burger” as a limited-time menu item.

Since its launch in 2013 the chain’s beef policy has run afoul of some livestock producers and other vocal critics, such as former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.

Some argued the campaign could mislead consumers about the safety or quality of conventional beef. Others noted that while the chain’s beef supply lines still include Canadian producers, it had to step outside Canada to source enough beef to fulfill the new policy. — AGCanada.com Network

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