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McPlant: McDonald's reveals plans for plant-based burger

The fast food giant becomes latest major brand to embrace alternative meat market with plans to introduce new plant-based burger. This announcement comes as Pizza Hut launches Beyond Meat topping options.

Food packaging box with an illustration of a plant and words that read, 'McPlant'

Courtesy of McDonald's.

McDonalds has confirmed it is set to launch a new line of plant-based burgers next year under the banner McPlant, following successful trials.

In an investor update last week, the company said it would test its new McPlant burger in key markets next year, as it looks to respond to growing customer demand for meat alternatives.

Ian Borden, president of McDonald's (MCD) International, said the company has "created a delicious burger that will be the first menu option in a plant-based platform." He added that the range could be expanded to include plant-based "chicken" and breakfast sandwiches as well.

However, the company stressed that it would continue to promote its existing meat-based lines, as the coronavirus pandemic drives demand for "comfort food."

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors that it would not rush into a global launch of the new McPlant line, arguing that markets would choose if and when to add McPlant items to their range. He added that the pace of the rollout would be dictated by consumer demand.

The company is something of a latecomer to the plant-based meats market, with rivals such as Burger King and KFC already having launched alternative meat lines.

However, Kempczinski stressed McDonalds would become a player in the market. "Plant-based products are an ongoing consumer trend," he said. "It's not a matter of if McDonald's will get into plant-based, it's a matter of when."

Last week's announcement also highlighted the growing investor interest in plant-based products.

Plant-based products are an ongoing consumer trend. ... It's not a matter of if McDonald's will get into plant-based, it's a matter of when.

McDonalds declined to name the partner that would be supplying the new patties, sparking an 8 percent fall in the share price of Beyond Meat, which had been working with the fast food giant on a trial in Canada.

However, the company's share price then rallied after it issued a statement to media outlets declaring that "Beyond Meat and McDonald's co-created the plant-based patty which will be available as part of their McPlant platform."

In related news, Pizza Hut Delivery announced a new partnership with Beyond Meat that will see it trial plant-based meat pizzas in the United Kingdom.

The companies said the new Beyond Meat toppings — Beyond Pork Crumbles, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Beyond Italian Style Sausage — had been developed to have the same taste and flavor profile as the regular meat toppings from Pizza Hut.

The range will be available for a limited time in five locations in Luton, Liverpool and London. It forms part of a wider global partnership that will see "Beyond Pan Pizzas" launched at U.S. Pizza Hut restaurants.

"We're thrilled to continue pushing the boundaries on pizza with our new Beyond Meat partnership," said Regina Borda, managing director of Pizza Hut UK and Europe. "We know that consumers are looking for more plant-based options for health, environmental, and lifestyle considerations, and aim to ensure they have access to these new options while maintaining our great-tasting pizzas."

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