Burger King's largest U.S. franchisee is seeing sales of the Impossible Whopper and the Popeyes chicken sandwich level out as the initial buzz around the two menu items dies down.
Average daily orders of the meatless Whopper at a Burger King location owned by Carrols Restaurant Group have decreased from 32 to 28, according to Carrols CEO Dan Accordino.
"The Impossible Whopper has stabilized," Accordino said at the ICR Conference on Tuesday.
In comparison, an average Burger King restaurant owned by Carrols sells 234 beef Whoppers a day, he said. Traditional Whoppers sell for about a dollar less than the Impossible Whopper.
The veggie burger trend, driven by Beyond Meat and privately held Impossible Foods' realistic imitation patties, has led restaurant chains to add their own versions to their menus in the hopes of luring new customers.
But while Restaurant Brands International's Burger King rolled its Impossible Whopper out nationwide in August, its top rival McDonald's has been slower to act. The fast-food giant recently expanded its Canadian test of the P.L.T. burger, made with a Beyond patty, although three restaurants that participated in the original test will remove it from menus.
Burger King, however, is doubling down with a test of the Impossible Whopper Jr. and the forthcoming test of Impossible Croissan'wich, made with a meatless sausage.
Carrols reported same-store sales growth of 2% at its Burger King locations in its fourth quarter. Accordino said that restaurants of sister chain Popeyes Lousiana Kitchen, buoyed by the popularity of its chicken sandwich, stole share across the fast-food industry in November and December, hitting Burger King locations. The chicken sandwich returned to Popeyes in November after selling out in August.
The Burger King franchisee reported fourth-quarter same-store sales growth of 21% at its Popeyes locations, a small segment of its business. At the peak of the chicken sandwich craze, a Popeyes location owned by Carrols could sell more than 1,100 per day.
"It's not at that level now, but it is at a very stable level," Accordino said.
Beyond Meat shares have been rallying in recent days. The stock, which has a market value of $7.4 billion, was recently up nearly 6%.
Carrols shares were down more than 1% in trading Tuesday. The company, which hit a 52-week low of $5.72 earlier, has a market value of $300 million.