McDonald’s is finally taking a nibble of the plant-based burger.
McDonald’s said Thursday that will sell the PLT, or the plant, lettuce and tomato burger, for 12 weeks in 28 restaurants in Southwestern Ontario by the end of the month.
The small-market test is rolling out about six months after rival Burger King began testing the plant-based Impossible Foods burger, which — no surprise — is a rival to Beyond Meat. It’s now selling those burgers nationwide because of strong demand from customers.
The entry of McDonald’s, the world’s largest burger chain, into the alternative meat arena has largely been seen as a question of when, and not if. Shares of Beyond Meat Inc. bolted 11% higher at the opening bell on the McDonald’s announcement.
It’s been a breakthrough year for the companies that are trying to perfect the no-meat burger.
Beyond Meat became a publicly traded company in May when it listed its shares for $45 on the Nasdaq. By July, those shares had risen more than 430%. Impossible Foods has raised more than $750 million, but remains private.
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are now appearing on fast food menus across the United States.
KFC last month began testing plant-based chicken nuggets and boneless wings at an Atlanta restaurant in partnership with Beyond Meat. Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco are also selling Beyond Meat products. Tim Hortons has tested a Beyond Meat breakfast sausage in Canada.
Impossible Foods announced in May that it was making meatless sausage crumbles for the Little Caesars pizza chain in some states.
Fans of Wendy’s have begun a petition to get the chain to add a plant-based burger to the menu. It’s garnered more than 26,000 signatures as of Thursday and earlier this month, Chief Executive Todd Penegor said plant-based burgers are “a trend that will be here to stay.
McDonald’s is pushing forward, albeit in a very limited introduction.
“Why just a small test? We’re in learning mode, so testing is a major part of how we develop our menu,” wrote Ann Wahlgren, McDonald’s vice president of global menu strategy. “It’s how we look before we leap.”