Wednesday, August 4

Why McDonald’s hasn’t introduced plant-based burgers in the US after launching them around the world


  • McDonald’s just finished testing another plant-based protein in Australia.
  • The chain has debuted McVeggie and McPlant menu items in markets around the world.
  • There are no updates about when McDonald’s US might add plant-based items.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

McDonald’s continues to debut plant-based options around the world, with the notable exception of the US.

The fast-food chain just finished a test of the McVeggie burger in Australia as demand for plant-based options continues to rise. The patty is made of Australian-grown potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, and onions, and served on a bun with lettuce, cheese, pickles, mayonnaise.

McDonald’s has been experimenting with plant-based menu items for over a year now. In September 2019, the chain announced a test run for a separate offering — the “PLT” burger, a plant, lettuce, and tomato sandwich — in some Canadian locations , with an expanded test in January 2020. The burger was made in partnership with Beyond Meat, which has also partnered with Dunkin’, TGI Fridays, and other chains.

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McDonald’s discontinued the Canadian test with no plans to continue, leading to a 10% dip in Beyond stock price. Beyond has since announced multi-year deals with both McDonald’s and Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands.

In November, it announced the McPlant line of plant-based meats including burgers, chicken substitutes, and other items. McDonald’s President of International Business Ian Borden called it a “proven, delicious-tasting product.”

“When customers are ready for it, it will be ready for them,” Borden said, indicating that it would test in some markets in 2021.

The McPlant is made from pea and rice proteins and has been rolled out in test runs in Denmark and Sweden this year.

McDonald’s still doesn’t have plant-based options in the US, though competitors including Burger King, Carl’s Jr, and Shake Shack have rolled out their own versions. A McDonald’s US spokesperson told Insider that right now plant-based is a global option that countries can add to menus “if customer demand is there.” There are no new updates about plans for a plant-based product in the US, McDonald’s said.

There’s reason to expect they will make it to the US eventually, though. CEO Chris Kempczinski told the New York Times that the chain continues to invest in plant-based product development, despite the fact that those items are more expensive than meat.

The McPlant name also indicates that McDonald’s sees a future in the product, as Kate Taylor reported for Insider. According to internal marketing guidelines, McDonald’s only adds the “Mc” prefix to words that “enhance the value and uniqueness of our brand.”

“It’s not a matter of if McDonald’s will get into plant-based,” Kempczinski said in November. “It’s a matter of when.”

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