Vegan Taco Bell Crunchwrap

Source: Taco Bell

Taco Bell will sell a vegan version of its popular Crunchwrap made with plant-based beef and cheese in three U.S. cities for a limited time, it said Wednesday.

Starting Thursday, customers in Los Angeles, New York and Orlando will be able to order the Vegan Crunchwrap. The Yum brands the chain said it chose the three cities because of their high vegan populations. The item will last while supplies last, which is expected to be about a week.

Taco Bell has long been popular with non-meat-eating customers thanks to vegetarian substitutes like beans and potatoes. Almost a quarter of the items it sold last year were vegetarian. Vegetarians were also among the fans who successfully pushed Taco Bell to bring back their cult favorite Mexican pizza.

The Mexican-inspired chain was initially slow to embrace the plant-based meat trend, but said it will test a menu item made from Except meat. Since then, sales of plant-based meats have slowed as consumer interest declines. Many large restaurant chains have pulled plant-based products from their menus or stayed away entirely.

Taco Bell has not progressed beyond the testing phase of plant-based meat options. Most recently, it was finally tested For Carne Asada October at dozens of Ohio restaurants. The chain has not shared any plans to launch the product more broadly.

The chain also tested its own proprietary meat substitutes, including the alternative used in the Vegan Crunchwrap.

Taco Bell used pea protein and soy to make the vegan beef in the new Crunchwrap. The chain tested this iteration last August in its Crispy Melt Taco at restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.

Missy Schaaphok, the chain’s director of global nutrition and sustainability, told CNBC that the chain thinks this take on the Crunchwrap might resonate more with vegans than the Crispy Melt Taco.

For the vegan blanco sauce and the vegan nacho sauce, Taco Bell used soy as the main base. Most vegan cheeses are made from softened cashews, but the chain wanted to stay away from using nuts due to customer allergies.

As Taco Bell tests requests and seeks customer feedback for the Vegan Crunchwrap, the chain will not allow customers to substitute vegan beef or cheeses in other menu items during the trial period.

The limited-time menu item will cost the same as Taco Bell’s original Crunchwrap. The chain said offering affordable vegan and vegetarian items is a priority.

Plant-based meat companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have also sought to achieve price parity with animal meat to appeal to more consumers.

Correction: This story has been corrected to credit a comment from Missy Schaaphok, director of global nutrition and sustainability for Taco Bell.

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