Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse will launch a plant-based burger from a Canadian manufacturer next month as its parent company Recipe Unlimited Corp. looks to capitalize on the alternative protein trend.
“There’s been a lot of hype around some other U.S. plant-based products,” said Frank Hennessey, Recipe’s CEO, during a conference call with analysts Friday — the morning after the company released its first-quarter financial results.
A&W Food Services Of Canada Inc. started selling American-based Beyond Meat plant-based burgers last year and breakfast sandwich patties a few months ago. Executives attribute the addition as being partly responsible for the company’s strong financial performance. When the chain first added the burger to its menu, it temporarily ran out of stock.
Kelsey’s will start to serve a competitor’s product, the Lightlife burger, at 70 locations starting June 3, Hennessey said. Maple Leaf Foods Inc. owns the Lightlife brand, which will produce Kelsey’s bourbon BBQ meatless burger.
The product will be made in Canada from all Canadian plant-based protein, Hennessey said, adding it has superior taste to those of competitors.
“All in all, a better product.”
The company expects to learn a lot from how the launch goes at Kelsey’s and may expand the burger to other chains it operates later on.
“My guess is you’ll see that down the road at Harvey’s,” said Hennessey.
The company also started testing a new concept called Chalet market at a Toronto-based corporate-owned Swiss Chalet about a week ago. It is an unlimited salad bar that can be added to any entree or purchased as its own entree. The test is getting positive feedback from employees and guests, said Hennessey.
The news came the day after Recipe reported its first-quarter earnings and same-store sales decreased despite a 12.5 per cent growth in system-wide sales.
The company formerly known as Cara Operations earned $22.7 million or 35 cents per diluted share for the period ended March 31, compared with $21.5 million or 35 cents per share a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, adjusted or core profits fell 14 per cent to $17.7 million or 28 cents per share. That compared with $20.6 million or 33 cents per share in the first quarter of 2018.
The company said system-wide sales rose to $850.7 million from $755.9 million, primarily due to the addition of The Keg and increases in the retail and catering segment from Swiss Chalet branded products and increases in frozen pot pie sales.
However, same-store sales — a key retail metric — decreased 1.6 per cent.
The Toronto-based company said its new pie production line added in the third quarter has helped to meet increased demand for St-Hubert and Swiss Chalet frozen pie products.
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Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press