Burger chain McDonald’s said it would debut its own plant-based meat alternatives called “McPlant” in 2021, ending speculation over who the world’s biggest restaurant chain would partner with in a new frontier for the fast food industry.
The decision hit shares of plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat, which was seen as the front runner for a contract as it had conducted tests of a so-called “P.L.T.” burger at nearly 100 McDonald’s locations in Ontario, Canada, earlier this year.
Beyond Meat was not immediately available for comment. Its stock was down nearly 8 per cent in morning trading, ahead of its quarterly results after market close.
McDonald’s, which reported market-beating profit and revenue estimates for the third quarter on Monday, did not comment on why it did not continue with Beyond Meat’s offerings in the United States.
“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,” McDonald’s chief executive officer Chris Kempczinski said on a call with analysts.
Analysts, rival fast food companies and plant-based protein producers have been closely watching McDonald’s plans as it is one of the few national chains yet to sell plant-based meat burgers on a permanent basis.
While other chains have started offering plant-based meat options, including Restaurant Brands International’s Burger King, White Castle and Dunkin’ Brands Group, a McDonald’s contract could be the biggest and would put the plant-based meat movement front and centre in mainstream America.
McDonald’s said under its McPlant line, it could offer products including burgers, chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches, which it expects to test in some markets in 2021.
The chain posted revenue of $US5.42 billion ($7.4 billion), surpassing analysts’ expectations for the fourth straight quarter. Adjusted earnings per share of $US2.22 also beat. The burger chain had previously reported same-store sales for the quarter, including 4.6 per cent growth in the US that wasn’t enough to offset weakness abroad. Globally, same-store sales dropped 2.2 per cent.
The stronger-than-forecast results come as customers craving comfort food and touchless experiences increasingly turn to fast food. The burger giant had already been revamping digital options before the virus hit, including touchscreen ordering and increased delivery options, allowing it to maintain sales even when eat-in dining rooms were temporarily closed earlier this year in parts of the US and beyond.
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