After teasing about the collaboration on social media over the weekend, Hong Kong’s plant-based group Green Monday has announced a milestone partnership with McDonald’s. An all-new plant-based menu will roll out across the city at all 280 McDonald’s and 122 McCafé locations in Hong Kong and Macau with six new dishes containing next-gen pork analogues developed by Green Monday’s food tech arm OmniFoods, including the groundbreaking vegan “spam” substitute OmniPork Luncheon that first debuted in mid-May earlier this year to widespread fanfare.
Just shortly after Green Monday announced its record-breaking US$70 million funding round, which represented the largest of its kind in Asia, and the international recognition from Fortune, which placed the social enterprise on its 2020 list of leading companies tackling unmet global needs, Hong Kong’s plant-based group is making headlines again with this time with a long-term partnership that could represent an industry game-changer.
Launching officially tomorrow (October 13), McDonald’s Hong Kong, whose franchise in the city has been operated by Citic Group and the Carlyle Group since 2017, the all-new vegetarian menu now available across over 400 outlets across Hong Kong and Macau. Developed together with Green Monday’s OmniFoods, the new menu at the city’s most popular fast food restaurant will feature six meatless dishes incorporating OmniPork Luncheon, the vegan-friendly substitute that even iconic local actress and singer Karena Lam has endorsed as an ambassador.
The new vegetarian-friendly* breakfast dishes will be heartily welcomed by Hong Kongers who love the cha chaan teng classic inspired menu, including OmniPork Luncheon & Scrambled Egg Burger, OmniPork Luncheon N’ Egg Twisty Pasta, OmniPork Luncheon Deluxe Breakfast and OmniPork Luncheon Jumbo Breakfast (all are breakfast items and are available until 11AM at McDonald’s outlets), as well as OmniPork Luncheon & Egg Cheesy Toast and OmniPork Luncheon & Egg Mayo Ciabatta at (available all day while stocks last at McCafé locations).
In a city where over 70% eat luncheon meat at least once a week, this is indeed an incredible feat- the McDonald’s and OmniPork Luncheon partnership means millions can eat cholesterol-free, plant-based version of what is traditionally considered a fairly unhealthy food.
As one of the largest global QSR chains in the world often looked upon as the “holy grail” of companies that plant-based startups have long set their sights on, the new McDonald’s partnership puts OmniFoods a step ahead of even some of the biggest food techs in the world who have yet to make their products a mainstay on the fast food giant’s menu. California-based Beyond Meat was the first foodtech to conquer the Golden Arches when it launched their vegan patty at McDonald’s Canada outlets back in 2019, and saw its shares fall sharply when the trial partnership ended and was not renewed.
“Today is one of the most exhilarating days in the history of Green Monday. To partner with McDonald’s is absolutely a dream come true. This is without a doubt the most monumental and game-changing breakthrough for the plant-based movement in Asia, and one of the biggest milestones globally,” David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Green Monday told Green Queen. “After 20 years as a vegetarian, I can once again say I’m loving it. I hereby must express my sincerest appreciation to the McDonald’s team for their support and commitment on this long-term collaboration.”
With McDonald’s franchise business in mainland China also operated by Citic Group and the Carlyle Group, Green Monday’s blockbuster partnership could pave the way for OmniFoods’ plant-based substitutes to roll out across outlets in mainland China too – the country with the third highest number of McDonald’s locations in the world. China represents an enormous consumer market that food tech founders dream of tapping into, especially given the growing appetite for animal protein there.
It’s hardly far fetched, considering that OmniFoods has already established a strong foothold in the mainland Chinese market, with its vegan pork mince OmniPork available for retail across e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Tmall platform and supermarket giant Aldi, and appearing on the menus of major chains including Starbucks, White Castle and Gll Wonton.
While fast food chain menus have for years remained largely unchanged, their ability to remain in the good graces of diners with their unhealthy, meat-filled offerings has perhaps come to an end. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed the dangers of the meat supply chain and shifted consumer priorities towards health and food safety, the appetite for plant-based meat alternatives have grown significantly and it’s become clear that even the biggest players in the food industry won’t be immune to the trend.
In a recent poll conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by Hong Kong’s Green Monday, researchers found that a quarter of the Hong Kong’s young consumers are likely to significantly reduce their meat intake as a direct result of the pandemic, and that a record of 34% of the city’s consumers – 2.5 million people – now identify as flexitarian eaters. Similar statistics have been observed across the world, from the U.K. and U.S. to Germany and South Korea.
Other fast food industry leaders that have taken the leap to embrace the plant-based movement include KFC, who have partnered with Beyond Meat, Quorn, Lightlife and in Hong Kong, again with Green Monday to launch two new vegetarian offerings across the city. Meanwhile, Burger King in Germany recently added plant-based chicken nuggets as part of a collaboration with The Vegetarian Butcher.
*All menu items are suitable for vegetarians, as they contain egg, mayonnaise and cheese.
Lead image courtesy of Dorothy Ma / Green Monday.