Golden Arches Enter Meatless Territory

Beyond Meat and McDonald’s collaborate on a three-year agreement for the McPlant burger.

March 02, 2021

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.—Following positive tests of the McPlant, McDonald’s and Beyond Meat Inc. made their collaboration official, at least for the next three years. Beyond Meat and McDonald’s will also explore co-developing other plant-based menu items, like plant-based options for chicken, pork and egg products, as part of McDonald’s broader McPlant platform. The deal pairs McDonald’s iconic global brand with Beyond Meat's expertise in plant-based protein development to create and market innovative new plant-based menu offerings.

The relationship between McDonald’s and Beyond Meat began in 2019 with the Canadian test of a sandwich made with Beyond Meat’s plant-based patty. “Our new McPlant platform is all about giving customers more choices when they visit McDonald’s,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s executive vice president and chief supply chain officer. “We’re excited to work with Beyond Meat to drive innovation in this space, and entering into this strategic agreement is an important step on our journey to bring delicious, high quality, plant-based menu items to our customers.”

McDonald’s isn’t the only one to sign deals with Beyond Meat. The plant-based meat company has also inked a global strategic partnership with Yum! Brands to co-create and offer “craveable and innovative plant-based protein menu items that can only be found at KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell over the next several years,” notes a press release.

Chris Turner, Yum! Brands CFO said the partnership, and consumer response to recent tests with Beyond Meat, will help strengthen Yum! Brands’ capability “to offer delicious, plant-based menu items that are driven by consumer demand for more diverse protein options and our brands’ strategies in local markets.”

Earlier this year, PepsiCo and Beyond Meat announced The PLANeT Partnership LLC (TPP), a joint venture to develop, produce and market innovative snack and beverage products made from plant-based protein. The joint venture is designed to create and scale new snack and beverage options and follows longstanding efforts by PepsiCo to help build a more sustainable food system.

Globally, convenience retailers are adding more plant-based selections. Inside Retail Asia reports that 7-Eleven has partnered with Green Monday to launch a plant-based meal range across its locations in Hong Kong. New offers include ready-meals-to-go and classic dim sum dishes, which will be rolled out across more than 700 stores. More than 30 plant-based snacks and drinks also will be offered in 150 stores.

“More and more people are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle but finding tasty plant-based food conveniently and around the clock can still be a challenge,” said Alex Liu, MD at 7-Eleven Hong Kong and Macau.

Meanwhile, Everything Legendary founders Duane “Myko” Cheers, Danita Claytor and Jumoke Jackson pitched their plant-based burger in an episode of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” which aired Feb. 26, catching the interest of Shark Mark Cuban, who invested $300,000 for a 22% stake in the Washington, D.C. area startup.

“We knew from the start that taste is everything,” said Cheers, CEO of Everything Legendary. “It began with a search for something healthy and good-tasting that our mothers would want to eat. Once we had that, we took it to the streets with pop-up stores and street festival sampling, and let the community taste it for themselves. We all know that today’s consumers are demanding that their food be nutritious and supercharged with flavor.”

Consumers Seek Less Meat

In a 2019 NACS Magazine feature, “Meat Your Plant-Based Burger,” David Portalatin, vice president and food industry advisor for The NDP Group, noted that the plant-based movement is not about being anti-animal protein, and that 16% of consumers today regularly consume plant-based alternatives. “Of these, 86% do not identify as vegan or vegetarian. This trend is all about seeking healthier options for including protein in your diet. Most people that eat an Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat Burger also eat beef burgers,” he said.

Mark DiDomenico, director of customer solutions at Datassential and guest on this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “What Customers Are Hungry for in 2021,” initially thought “fake meat” would be a fad. “There is so much activity right now with all of the [QSR] chains diving in. … I don’t know why c-stores wouldn’t put something like it on the menu, whether they serve it hot or have it in the refrigerator case to heat up in the microwave.”

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