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Next month, McDonald’s will start a small-scale test of its McPlant product, the plant-based burger the chain is co-developing with Beyond Meat. From November 3, the McPlant will be available for a limited time at eight US McDonald’s locations, according to an official announcement from McDonald’s Corporate.
McDonald’s, which operates almost 40,000 locations worldwide, first announced the McPlant brand in November 2020. At the time, it was unclear as to whether Beyond Meat was involved, though the two companies had previously collaborated on a menu item in Canada. Beyond later clarified that the two companies had co-created the McPlant, which is a plant-based burger patty.
McPlant ‘round the world
McDonald’s did a trial run of the McPlant burger earlier this year at select locations in Sweden and Denmark. And just last month, McPlant arrived at several locations in the UK, with a a nationwide rollout in England expected in 2022.
The UK version of McPlant differs from past versions in that it is 100% vegan. In other words, the item doesn’t come with the usual dairy-based cheese and mayonnaise it has in other markets. The UK McPlant is also accredited by The Vegan Society and cooked on an entirely separate grill using dedicated utensils.
By contrast, the US version of McPlant will still include some items that contain animal-based protein. According to the official McDonald’s announcement, the plant-based patty will be served up on a sesame bun and include mayonnaise and American cheese in addition to the standard lettuce-tomato-pickle trio that comes on most US burgers. The company told CNBC that the burger will be cooked on the same grill as traditional burger patties, while the official announcement noted that McPlant “has the iconic taste of a McDonald’s burger, because it is one.”
A cautious approach
For now, at least, it seems that appealing to the vegan crowd is not the first priority for McDonald’s with this upcoming test of McPlant. Instead, the company appears to be more interested in studying the impacts of the new item on its existing operations: “We’re always testing new items and flavors, and this particular test will help us understand how offering a burger with a plant-based patty impacts the kitchens in our restaurants,” the company said.
This cautious approach is in keeping with McDonald’s recent history of introducing plant-based items to its menus. The chain simply hasn’t done a major rollout of any plant-based item to date, despite other QSRs making aggressive moves to integrate lots of them as fast as possible. Restaurant Brands International-owned Burger King, for example, dropped its Impossible Whopper back in 2019. The item is now available in markets around the world, and Burger King has expanded its Impossible items recently to also include vegan nuggets.
As noted above, the US version of McPlant will be available at eight different locations for a limited time “while supplies last.” Cities with test locations include Irving and Carrollton, Texas; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Jennings and Lake Charles, Louisiana; and El Segundo and Manhattan Beach, California.
As to when a full nationwide launch might happen, McDonald’s isn’t yet giving that information away. Per the company announcement, “you’ll have to stay tuned for future McPlant availability updates coming out of our test…we can’t share that secret sauce just yet.”
Lead image courtesy of McDonald’s.