Taco Bell plans to test a "Power Protein" menu that it's hoping will eventually be hit with its core audience —young men.
The chain says it will start testing the menu July 25 at about 40 locations in Dayton, Ohio. The burritos and bowls will have double portions of chicken or steak, and toppings such as corn, guacamole and reduced fat sour cream. They'll be made with existing ingredients, including those used for its Cantina Bell line.
In a call with reporters announcing the test, CEO Greg Creed noted that people are looking for options that play up the "performance" factor, as evidenced by the proliferation of protein bars and cereals at supermarkets.
The Power Protein menu represents the first products to stem from Taco Bell's announcement in April that it would work to provide more balanced options. Fast-food chains across the industry have been touting healthy new eats in hopes of losing their junk food image and attracting more people in their 20s and 30s, who marketers say are more finicky about food than past generations.
Creed said he expects the Power Protein menu to sell better than Taco Bell's "fresco" options, which were introduced in 2005 and come without cheese or sour cream. "Fresco" orders account for only about 2 percent of sales and are more popular among women.
The Power Protein burritos and bowls, by contrast, should draw from both men and women, even though they'll do particularly well among men, Creed said.
The burritos and bowls have more than 20 grams of protein and less than 450 calories; they cost between $3.59 and $5.19 depending on whether they feature steak or chicken.
The test of the Power Protein burritos and bowls will run for about five to six weeks. After that, Creed said the company is "looking to put it on the 2014 calendar."
The company is also testing new zero-calorie beverages, including SoBe Lifewater.