McDonald’s Trials Meat-Free Burger Subsequent 12 months; Past Meat Lager falls

McDonald’s new plant-based PLT burger is photographed outside one of the company’s test locations in London, Ontario, on September 30, 2019.

GEOFF ROBINS | AFP | Getty Images

McDonald’s will be testing a meat-free burger in multiple markets next year by adding plant-based menu offerings that it has referred to as “McPlant”.

International President Ian Borden said McPlant was created “by McDonald’s and for McDonald’s”. Borden said the McPlant line could include chicken substitutes as well.

The company has not yet announced the suppliers for the line. A company spokesman declined to identify its supplier, but said McDonald’s won’t make the products.

Shares in Beyond Meat, which made the meat-free patties for the Canadian McDonald’s test, fell as much as 6% in morning trade on the news. The share was temporarily stopped due to volatility.

McDonald’s began testing a meatless burger called PLT in several dozen Ontario restaurants in September last year. By April, the chain had ended the pilot and has since stated that it currently has no plans to bring back their PLT burger.

Former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, who invested early in Beyond, sits on the plant-based meat company’s board of directors. Investors have speculated that the link between the two companies could mean a long-term partnership and could turn Beyond into a supplier to the largest US restaurant chain by sales.

Other McDonald’s international markets have had more success with meatless burgers. For example, restaurants in Germany have added Nestle’s vegetarian burgers to their menus.

Chris Kempczinski, CEO of McDonald’s, told investors that the markets will decide if and when to add McPlant items to their respective country. He added that the exact pace will be determined by consumer demand.

Rival Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International, released a plant-based patty whopper in the US that was privately made by Impossible Foods last year.

McDonald’s shares rose less than 1% in morning trading after the company’s third-quarter earnings and sales surpassed analyst estimates. The company also released an Investor Update forecasting mid-single-digit system-wide revenue growth in 2021 and 2022 and reporting more on its revenue growth strategy.

Beyond is expected to release its third quarter results after the bell on Monday.

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