Impossible Whopper Boosts Burger King Foot Traffic 18%

McDonald’s remains undecided about offering plant-based burgers.

May 30, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–When Burger King announced in April that it would test a vegetarian version of the Whopper, some skeptics were unimpressed. However, locations in the St. Louis test market saw foot traffic outperform the chain’s national average 18.5% last month, and now the Impossible Whopper has landed in three more cities, reports CNBC.

Burger King analyzed location data from mobile apps for March—before the Impossible Whopper started testing—and April. Locations in the city attracted 16.75% higher foot traffic in April than the previous month’s average for all U.S. Burger Kings. Outside St. Louis, U.S. stores saw foot traffic decrease by 1.75% from March’s average number of visits, according to the survey.

“The Impossible Whopper is performing very well in our test markets, and it continues to drive new traffic to our restaurants,” said Dori Robau Alvarez, a spokesperson for Burger King.

Burger King has experienced slow same-store sales growth. During its first quarter, the chain reported same-store sales growth of 2.2%, down from 3.8% a year earlier, but the Impossible Whopper could change that.

“These next generation, plant-based alternatives are in position to disrupt the meat category in a similar fashion that plant-based milks disrupted dairy, and energy drinks disrupted caffeinated beverages,” said Bryan Spillane, an analyst with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  

Burger King plans to roll out its Impossible Whopper nationwide by the end of the year. As it struggles to meet demand for its plant-based patty, Impossible Foods is increasing the number of hours and employees working at its plant.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s has no current plans to add a plant-based protein burger to its menu, according to another CNBC report. 

At its annual shareholder meeting last week, Silvia Lagnado, global chief marketing officer and menu director, said McDonald’s was reviewing plant-based meat alternatives but would not disclose any plans at this time.

McDonald’s is under pressure to add a vegetarian-friendly burger to its offerings. Some of McDonald’s German outlets sell a plant-based burger made by Nestlè, but the company says individual markets must decide what is best for their customers.

Recently, McDonald’s revised its menu by removing its Signature Crafted sandwiches and burgers, trimming the late-night menu and allowing franchisees to scale back the all-day breakfast menu.