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​McDonald's Halts McPlant Burger Rollout in the US

​McDonald's Halts McPlant Burger Rollout in the US

Posted by Emily on 2nd Jul 2024

The future of McDonald's plant-based burger, the McPlant, appears bleak in the United States after underwhelming trial results. Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald's US operations, confirmed at the Wall Street Journal's Global Food Forum in Chicago that the company has no plans to extend the McPlant's availability following its trial in San Francisco and Dallas.

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The McPlant, developed in collaboration with plant-based food producer Beyond Meat, failed to garner significant customer interest in both cities. Erlinger remarked, "It was unsuccessful in either market, so I don't think the US consumer is coming to McDonald's looking for McPlant or other plant-based proteins."

The McPlant's journey contrasts with its more favourable reception in Europe, where it launched in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Austria. The UK, in particular, was chosen for its vegan solid market, with the McPlant debuting in September 2021. However, even in the UK, vegan fast-food brands have faced challenges, with some, like Flower Burger and The Vurger Co, closing down and others, such as Neat Burger, scaling back operations.

In the US, McDonald's has decided to pivot its focus towards chicken, which Erlinger noted aligns with current consumer trends. "The bigger trend around protein consumption is really around chicken, and we think we're poised to serve that trend well," he added.

The McPlant's ingredients include a plant-based patty made from peas, rice, and potatoes, served with traditional burger accompaniments like lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and cheese on a sesame seed bun. Despite the innovative approach, the product did not meet expectations in the US market.

This setback occurs amid broader challenges for Beyond Meat. Once a Wall Street favourite, Beyond Meat's stock has plummeted from a high of approximately $235 a share in July 2019 to around $6.66 a share as of Thursday—a staggering 97% decline. Analysts attribute this drop to high inflation and waning demand for plant-based proteins.

Beyond Meat continues collaborating with other dining chains, including TGI Fridays, Carl's Jr., and BurgerFi. Meanwhile, other fast-food giants like Burger King, Wendy's, and Taco Bell have also ventured into plant-based menu items, reflecting a broader but cautious interest in non-meat alternatives.

As McDonald's navigates these market dynamics, the company aims to attract customers deterred by rising prices, which are largely driven by inflation. This shift from McPlant suggests a strategic adaptation to consumer preferences and economic conditions.