The McPlant could mainstream meatless burgers

McDonald's is finally lifting the lid on its Beyond Meat-backed McPlant burger.

Future. McDonald’s is finally lifting the lid on its Beyond Meat-backed McPlant burger. Even though many other fast-food chains have introduced meatless burgers (or chickenless chicken or even fishless fish), McDonald’s reach and popularity could make eating a beef-less patty a casual occurrence.

Patty science

Meatless burgers are about to be everywhere. McDonald’s is rolling out the McPlant in various markets worldwide.

  • The Quarter Pounder-looking sandwich is made with Beyond Meat, which is made from ingredients such as peas, rice, and potatoes.
  • The McPlant is being introduced as a “core menu option,” which means any market could choose to offer it as soon as they’re ready.
  • Restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland have already permanently added it to the menu, and it’s being tested in Denmark and Sweden.
  • In the U.S., 600 restaurants are currently testing it, and sales are promising — an average of 70 are sold a day per location (an average of 110 Big Macs are sold a day).

The ramp-up in offerings comes after “several years of R&D and internal testing,” and a failed test of a Beyond Meat-based burger called the P.L.T. in Canada in 2019.

“What do you mean you eat no meat?”

Will diners line up for a meatless burger from McDonald’s? That’s certainly the hope for McDonald’s, which hopes to be carbon-zero by 2050. As the largest restaurant chain in the world, it would need just a fraction of regular customers to switch to the McPlant to make a meaningful difference — beef consumption has the highest carbon footprint of any food.

Emma Ignaszewski, a corporate engagement project manager at Good Food Institute (a nonprofit that studies the alternative-meat industry), said, “McDonald’s is investing its brand equity in the McPlant platform, the same brand equity that it invested in the McNugget in the 1980s that led to the popularization of the chicken nugget. When they launch a new product, they’re not looking for short-term gains, they’re looking to define a new category, and this is their opportunity to revolutionize the world’s access to plant-based meat.”