This week, McDonald’s
He rolled out the long-awaited redesign of his fried chicken sandwich, which is available in three versions – regular, spicy and deluxe.
But beyond that, no pun intended, comes a launch that could be even bigger.
During 2021, McDonald’s is expected to begin rolling out items under its McPlant designation, a family of fake meats that will expand on its menu.
On Thursday, he announced that he had signed a three year global agreement with Beyond Meat, one of the two big names in vegetable meat.
Beyond will be the McPlant Burger’s favorite burger cake supplier, and the couple are exploring other plant-based substitutes for chicken, pork and egg,
In fact, consumers in different parts of the world have already gotten a taste of what the McPlant burger might look like.
He tested the PLT – for plants, lettuce and tomato – in Canada in 2019, before stopping it discreetly last year.
McDonald’s is currently testing a McPlant burger in a limited number of locations in Sweden and Denmark. The Swedish test will last until mid-March, and the Danish experiment until mid-April.
McDonald’s plans to evaluate these tests before deploying the McPlant in other markets.
The Scandinavian market is used to meatless burgers. McDonald’s has been offering plant-based options on its Swedish menu since 1997, and it has been offering the McVegan burger there since 2017.
The McPlant sold in Sweden is a “100% bean burger,” according to a press release from McDonald’s. Each is also available with cheese and mayonnaise, although they can be saved to make the McPlant more vegan.
A bean burger looks a little different from the formula found in the typical Beyond Meat patty, which is made from a list of ingredients including pea protein, mung bean, rice, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.
Each time McPlant arrives, McDonald’s will have some catching up to do with other fast food competitors as well as fast casual restaurants and many independent restaurants.
Burger King made a faux meat version of their Whopper available in 2019, while the faux meat sliders have been sold by White Castle since 2018.
Other herbal items have been launched by Dunkin and Starbucks and have been tested in Canada by Tim Horton’s.
Questions remain. It’s not yet clear whether McDonald’s will simply replicate what it sells in Europe, repeat the Canadian PLT, or design a burger for American tastes.
And, it also remains to be seen whether McDonald’s will follow its chicken strategy and offer the McPlant with different toppings.
A number of reviewers seemed to prefer the deluxe version of the chicken sandwich, which includes lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, to the basic version, which only contains pickles.
In Canada, PLT was served with lettuce and tomato, plus a slice of cheese, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, and the Beyond galette. Bacon could be added (yes, bacon on a vegetable burger).
How much will it cost? The PLT sold for $ 6.49 Canadian ($ 4.90 US at the time it was offered), or as a combo with fries and soda for $ 9.89 ($ 7.46).
A price in this range would place a plant-based burger in a premium category, where McDonald’s has not been as successful.
He tried a series of exclusive burgers, which were supposed to compete with Shake Shack and Wendy’s. But franchisees and customers alike have complained that the burgers are slowing drive-through lines and causing waits inside.
So these burgers were scrapped in 2019 in favor of an increased focus on quarter pounders.
How big will it be? A dilemma for McDonald’s is whether to go big with a plant-based burger or come up with something smaller and cheaper that would allow more customers to try it.
The PLT patty I tried in Canada seemed about the size of a small McDonald’s cheeseburger, despite the packaging and photography making it appear larger.
Burger King and White Castle may have answered this question already, however, their plant-based patties are essentially swap-ins for similarly sized meat.
Thus, McDonald’s may need to offer a patty that meets the specifications of an existing burger.
Who will buy it? Young, environmentally conscious customers seem to be the natural audience for a herbal cake.
Even though they are not vegetarians, many young people have grown up eating meatless meals at home or when having dinner with their parents.
They are more willing than previous generations of diners to try different styles of cooking.
While a typical McDonald’s hamburger and fries customer might not be interested, the business might attract some McDonald’s dodgers who are curious about what’s on the packaging.
When is this going to happen? This is what everyone wants to know. A national launch by McDonald’s takes time. This week’s chicken sandwich arrived 18 months after Popeyes set the fast food world on fire with his Fried Chicken Sandwich.
Since the Scandinavian testing ends in the middle of the second quarter, McDonald’s probably wouldn’t launch until the third quarter, if not later.
Fall could prove to be the perfect time, as many colleges and universities hope to resume classes in person, and these students will be looking for meals and snacks.
Plus, time is running out now for his three-year deal with Beyond, who will no doubt be keen to maximize his relationship with McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, there is chicken. Unless you prefer to eat fish and Popeyes has a sandwich you might want try in the meantime.