McDonald’s test of its first-ever plant-based burger in the U.S., the McPlant, has “concluded as planned,” as confirmed by the company. What that means for the future of the McPlant in the U.S. market is still unclear, but perhaps the plant-based burger’s journey so far is an indication of its future.
McDonald’s has been cautious from the beginning (to say the least) in its approach to testing out this plant-based offering in the U.S. When the testing began in November of 2021, the McPlant was only on menus at select locations in Texas, Louisiana, and California. Initially, testing seemed to be going well. By December that year, the company’s goal of selling 70 McPlant burgers per day was being met, and one analyst speculated there was a possibility for the national rollout of the McPlant to be executed as early as first quarter in 2022. However, another analyst was more cautiously optimistic, predicting that the test would expand to 700 more locations in early 2022 before going national in 2023.
Turns out the more wary prediction was the more accurate one. McDonald’s did end up expanding the test to 600 more locations in 2022. Unfortunately, that is where progress started to waver. By March of 2022 it was being reported that sales of the McPlant in some locations were down to as low as three to five per day.
Although the burger is plant-based, the McPlant is neither entirely vegan nor strictly vegetarian. The McPlant is a Beyond Meat patty topped with American cheese and mayo, and it is cooked on the same grill that the fast food chain’s beef burgers are also cooked on. Based on this, it’s sort of difficult to understand what audience McDonald’s wants to (or wanted to) target by rolling out the McPlant so late in the plant-based fast food game.
As for the future of the McPlant, we couldn’t get a straight answer from sources at McDonald’s. It looks like that remains in the hands of old Ronald.