Taco Bell Hops On Protein Craze

With the Paleo Diet in full swing, and protein content being pumped up or spotlighted in all kinds of packaged foods and beverages, and on casual and fine-dining menus, it's no surprise that QSRs would also look to capitalize on the trend. 

Taco Bell is responding by turning its Cantina Bell Menu into a protein-focused Cantina Power Menu, and testing new, high-protein breakfast options.

The Cantina Power Menu, launching nationally on July 17, features burritos and bowls with 3 ounces of grilled chicken or steak (about double the amount in core-menu items), and 29 grams and 28 grams of protein, respectively. The items' ingredients include lettuce, cheddar cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo; the bowls also include black beans and rice.



In total, the burritos and bowls deliver 29 and 28 grams of protein, respectively, and under 500 calories.

As was true of the original Cantina Bell Menu, launched in 2012, the Power menu is a premium, higher-priced offering. The new burritos are priced at $3.79 for chicken and $3.99 for steak; the bowls are $4.99 for chicken and $5.19 for steak. Vegetarian options are available at $3.79 for the burrito and $4.99 for the bowl.

Taco Bell created the new items after testing a protein menu last year in Ohio. Consumers indicated that they didn't see much difference between that menu and the existing Cantina Bell offerings, so the QSR developed high-protein item variations under the Cantina branding. 

The new menu will be marketed through social, digital and mobile efforts; no television ads are planned.

In addition, on Aug. 4, Taco Bell will begin testing a Greek yogurt and Power Breakfast steak bowls and burritos in Omaha, Neb. 

The yogurt, including a vanilla bean-with-granola-topping variety, will have 17 grams of protein and 240 calories, and sell for $2.49.  It's being produced in partnership with premium boutique brand Three Happy Cows. The breakfast steak bowls and burritos will be priced at $2.79.

The new breakfast items could roll out nationally in early 2015, said Taco Bell president Brian Niccol, who is in line to become the QSRs CEO next year.

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