Plant-Based Meat Sneaks Into McDonald’s Fast Food Restaurant, Becoming $ 14 Billion Opportunity

Competition among plant protein suppliers is heating up the fast food industry with a frenzy that resembles the increasingly hot chicken sandwich wars.

Thursday, McDonald’s (MCD) announcement his plan to test his very first plant-based burger, the McPlant, which he created with Beyond Meat (BYND) as part of a three-year strategic partnership. For now, however, the September 29 launch is limited to 10 restaurants in the UK and Ireland. On October 13, it will expand to 250 sites before rolling out more widely in the UK and Ireland by 2022.

After three years of research and development, the Golden Arches have concocted a plant-based patty served on a vegan sesame bun with vegan cheese made from pea protein and a new vegan sauce. It is served with traditional garnishes like onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard.

McDonald’s has also made it clear that it will be cooked separately from other burgers and sandwiches using dedicated utensils – perhaps taking into account the issues that have involved Burger King (QSR), which introduced its Impossible Whopper-based of plants in 2019.

The chain has been sued by a vegan customer who claimed the restaurant chain was engaged in “false and deceptive business practices” while advertising its plant-based dish. Burger King Later won the case in 2020 after a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Plant market: a $ 14 billion opportunity

(Courtesy: McDonald’s)

McDonald’s pilot project and the proliferation of fake meat options in the notoriously meat-friendly fast food industry is the latest sign of how the industry is adjusting to a more health-conscious population. According to a new report from the food intelligence company To taste, plant-based meat menu mentions were up 1,320% in the United States from pre-pandemic levels in early 2020.

The fake meat market in fast food chains shows no signs of slowing down. Burger King’s Impossible Burger was followed by Starbucks’ June 2020 launch of the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich, which was then followed by Dunkin’s Beyond Meat Breakfast Sandwich.

And 2021 has become the dawn of other herbal entries, like Morningstar Farms (K) to introduce the Southwestern Vegetarian Breakfast Sandwich and Wendy’s Spicy black bean burger.

“This is one of those rare moments in history where business opportunity and the betterment of the world align,” Alon Chen, co-founder and CEO of Tastewise told Yahoo Finance in an email. “The use of plants is both the right thing to do for the world and for exponential growth over the next decade. ”

However, it’s not just vegans who are drawn to meatless foods – evidence suggests that there are plenty more who are making the switch for different reasons.

“Consumers of all lifestyles expect brands to address concerns about climate change, sustainability and personal health,” Chen said.

“This change has created a $ 14 billion opportunity over the next decade, where the question is not ‘if’ every restaurant business should come up with herbal alternatives, but ‘when’ and what technology will prevail. “, he added.

Taste data shows the playing field still leans in favor of traditional meat, with plant-based options – at least for now – including a small portion of menu options. However, many believe that there is a major opportunity for food producers: At present, the total market for plant-based products is worth nearly $ 7 billion in the United States, with plant-based meat in the United States. individual lending only $ 1.4 billion of this total.

(Courtesy: Yahoo Finance, sourced from Tastewise Report)

(Courtesy: Yahoo Finance, sourced from Tastewise Report)

While there are opportunities in this market, 54% of Americans have tried meatless options at popular fast food chains, according to a recent report. investigation by Piplsay. Of those, 70 percent said they enjoyed it.

Burger King being one of the first entrants to the competition, most tried plant-based meat there. According to Piplsay, 41% of consumers have tried BK’s meatless dishes, followed by 10% at Starbucks, 10% at Wendy’s (WEN), 10% at Subway’s and 8% at Dunkin ‘. Elsewhere, less than 7% have tried it in other places including Del Taco, Qdoba, Carl’s Jr. and others.

And plant-based chicken options are on the rise as well. Recently, Panda Express collaborated with Beyond Meat to bring Beyond the Original Orange Chicken to their menus, and Shake Shack (SHAK) offered a limited edition vegan menu.

Finally, fake seafood is also making its way onto menus and is bubbling up on the internet – up 90.7% in social interest according to Tastewise. Recently, Long John Silver’s and Whole Foods looked at the fish-free category.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email him at [email protected].

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