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Yum Brands Rises on Taco Bell Tie Up With Beyond Meat

Shares of Yum Brands rose Thursday after its Taco Bell subsidiary said that next year it would test a plant-based product with Beyond Meat.

Yum Brands'  (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report Taco Bell is exploring a partnership with Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Beyond Meat Inc. Report for a new plant-based product that will be tested next year.

This will be the first plant-based meat menu offering by the Mexican fast-food chain. 

Shares of Yum Brands, the Louisville, Ky., operator of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, at last check rose 1.1% to $108.36.

Beyond Meat, the El Segundo, Calif., plant-based-meat specialist, jumped 7.7% to $135.

Yum told TheStreet that the one-year timeline for the new product reflected shifts in its business stemming from the pandemic.

"Taco Bell is working with Beyond Meat to take the time to create a new protein that is truly innovative — something you haven’t quite seen before — that offers a unique twist without compromising on cravability," the statement said. 

"As with its other products, Taco Bell will need to test the new protein alternative, which will occur in the coming year. Details on specific timing and markets will be available later this year."

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In November, Pizza Hut said it partnered with Beyond Meat to offer two plant-based-meat pizzas for a limited time.

Separately, Taco Bell, further bolstering its vegetarian menu, will also bring back its cheesy fiesta potatoes and spicy-potato soft taco, beginning March 11.

"We have long been a leader in the vegetarian space, but this year we have more meatless options in store that vegetarians, veggie-curious and even meat-eaters will love," Liz Matthews, Yum's global chief food innovation officer, said in a statement.

Taco Bell has had meatless items like the bean burrito on its menu for many years.

In December, Wells Fargo analyst Jon Tower upgraded Yum! to an overweight ranking.

“Coming out of a year unlike any other in modern history for the restaurant industry, we expect chains to benefit from pent-up demand and a consumer who is flush with cash to spend," he said.

"We think this dynamic sets up particularly well for the casual dining space, with this sub-segment likely to see outsized benefits from independent closures, better in-store operating models, more efficient marketing spend, and a viable newer long-term sales channel.”