Is the Taco Bell Proprietary Plant-Based Protein a sign of the future?

(Photo by Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images) /

Taco Bell has long appealed to vegetarians. Beyond the Mexican Pizza, the ability to customize the menu ensured that these guests were never left out. That run to the border any time of day came with numerous food options which satisfied a hunger. With the new Taco Bell Proprietary Plant-Based Protein, a new conversation comes to the table. Could this idea be an essential concept for quick service restaurants?

According to a recent Taco Bell announcement, the Taco Bell Proprietary Plant-Based Protein is doing a limited test run in Birmingham, Alabama. Available on its Crispy Melt Taco, the plant-based protein is to be a “soy and pea protein proprietary blend.” In addition, the protein is “inspired by classic Taco Bell flavors.”

While that description may not fully explain the flavor component, there is a bigger bite to be considered. Although this offering does not take the place of Taco Bell’s partnership with Beyond Meat, could quick service restaurants be serving their own “created foods.”

Granted, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and others have long sourced specific products that enhance their menu experience. Yes, there is a reason why Wendy’s bacon tastes different and McDonald’s French fries have a particular flavor. While those items are sourced from particular areas, the creation of a particular food for a quick service restaurant menu might be the taste of the future.

Even though the McPlant might not have sprouted as soon as some people wanted, other quick service restaurants are looking to have their “own” plant based food. When Wendy’s announced it would be expanding into the plant-based food realm, it had a very specific version to add to its fast food done right concept. While these foods might fit seamless into the quick service restaurant menu, there is one caveat. It cannot be replicated anywhere else.

When plant-based foods surged in popularity, the idea of swapping a Beyond or Impossible offering into a classic menu item seemed easy. The integrity of the original dish remained, and many people appreciated the similarly satisfying flavors. The quick service restaurant proprietary food is new and could make people opt to dine out versus dine in because they crave a particular ingredient.

Although these new food offerings are in their infancy stage, they do open many possibilities. Given that ingredients add the flavor to any dish, controlling the creation of that food could enhance the eating enjoyment. From the Taco Bell Proprietary Plant-Based Protein to Wendy’s to the next option on the menu, a taste of the quick service restaurant future is coming.