Carl’s Jr. Enters the Sustainable Century

"Beyond Famous Star" plant-based hamburger from the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce this new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State, have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

"Beyond Famous Star" plant-based hamburger from the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce this new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State, have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

On January 2nd, Carl’s Jr. began the rollout of a collaboration with Beyond Meat, introducing the “Beyond Famous Star” burger at more than 1,000 locations nationwide. This was the company’s first step in a plant-based direction, and a somewhat unexpected one coming from a brand that had previously been associated with an audience consisting almost exclusively of meat eaters. According to a food service press release by Beyond Meat, this collaboration is the company’s “largest partnership to date in the U.S.”

Founded in 2009, Beyond Meat is a plant-based company that offers an extremely realistic alternative for beef burgers and crumbles, and, most recently, pork sausages. The burgers even “bleed” beet juice. Beyond has investments from the likes of Bill Gates, Leonardo Dicaprio, and former CEO of Mcdonald’s, and Don Thompson.

Beyond’s products have been picking up popularity since launch, and are sold in grocery stores nationwide. The first American restaurant that added the burger to their menu was California-based vegan chain VeggieGrill, which sells the product for $12.95. Thus, Carl’s Jr, which offers the “Beyond Famous Star” burger for $6.29, is an interestingly accessible option for those seeking the plant-based patty. The company has provided a vegan option for both upscale clientele (VeggieGrill customers and Yale University students) and the average consumer (customers of Sysco and T.G.I Fridays).

Students wait for lunch at the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce a new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

Students wait for lunch at the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce a new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

So, why would Carl’s Jr. be interested in selling the Beyond Burger in the first place? A high end, sustainability-focused brand like Beyond wouldn’t seem like it shares an audience with one of the meatiest companies out there. So is Carl’s Jr. looking to bring in a new category of customers all together? Or perhaps offer an option for vegans that are dragged to the nearest establishment by their meat-eating friends? According to one of Beyond’s press releases, Jason Marker, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, explained upon the launch of the collaboration that, “we know people are looking for options- in fact, roughly one-third of consumers identify as flexitarians- and we’re thrilled to partner with Beyond Meat to bring more delicious, irresistible flavors to our menu.”

Retail data conducted by Beyond Meat in the summer of 2018 found that 90% of customers that purchased a Beyond product also purchased a meat product. This backs up the idea that the plant-based burger has wide appeal with meat eaters who intend on making adjustments to their diet, and confirms that a partnership with a company that thrives on the sales of animal-based protein is a good move.

What do SMC students think about the new menu option?

Cecil Alsanussi, an Animation major at SMC, was excited by the news. "I grew up eating Carl's Jr. on vacation, and now that I'm vegetarian, the fact that they have a vegetarian option makes me feel welcomed." Juanita Olaya, a Cognitive Science major at SMC, agrees. "Being vegan is usually seen as having lots of money to buy food, so now that Carl's Jr. is offering it, it's definitely more accessible," she mentioned.

"Beyond Famous Star" plant-based hamburger from the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce this new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State, have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

"Beyond Famous Star" plant-based hamburger from the Carl's Jr. inside the Student Union at Long Beach State University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Earlier this year, Carl's Jr. partnered with Beyond Meat to introduce this new plant-based burger. While there is not a Carl's Jr. at SMC, other local colleges, like UCLA and Long Beach State, have Carl's Jrs. on campus.( Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

While the collaboration with Beyond Meat may be unexpected, it actually seems as though it may just be an excellent move for both companies. While Carl’s Jr. can potentially bring in new customers (and good press), Beyond Meat gains a partnership with a lucrative company within the fast food industry and makes their product, and their mission, more accessible for the average consumer. If you’re a vegan, a flexitarian, or anything in between, you know where to find the Beyond Burger!