Vegan brand Beyond Meat is behind the newly announced McDonald’s McPlant burger—which the fast-food chain plans to launch in 2021 with geographic regions to be announced. Yesterday, McDonald’s International President Ian Borden made the announcement of the McPlant as a burger that is “crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” and the chain declined to comment on the plant-based patty supplier behind the forthcoming burger. “Beyond Meat and McDonald’s co-created the plant-based patty which will be available as part of their McPlant platform,” Beyond Meat said in a statement.
Given the anticipation behind McDonald’s’ launch of a plant-based burger and Beyond Meat’s positioning to become the supplier of its patty, McDonald’s’ announcement of its McPlant without mention of Beyond Meat led to a stumble in the vegan brand’s stock prices. During Beyond Meat’s most recent earnings call yesterday, CEO Ethan Brown addressed the company’s partnership with McDonald’s. “I think given the consumer resonance with our brand and just the momentum we have with consumers, the brand that we’ve established, we think [the Beyond Meat name] deserves to be up there on the menu and nearly all of our QSR (quick service restaurant) partners have done that and benefited as a result,” Brown said.
Last year, Beyond Meat partnered with McDonald’s to launch its P.L.T. (Plant, Lettuce, and Tomato) burger at test locations in Ontario, Canada. While the P.L.T. did not mention Beyond Meat branding in its official menu name—as opposed to other partners such as Carl’s Jr. which offers the co-branded Beyond Famous Star—McDonald’s made it clear on menu boards that the Beyond Burger was used for the patty. “And if you look at how the P.L.T. was positioned, it was pretty clear in all sales collateral and signage that it was with the Beyond Meat burger,” Brown continued. “Now we can’t specify or speak for McDonald’s to how we interplay with McPlant Burger. But we clearly think it’d be in everybody’s best interest to use our brand, and I would resist efforts to not use it.”
Despite the snafu, Brown revealed that Beyond Meat’s relationship with the fast-food chain is good. “I respect [McDonald’s] decision to refer to the big plant platform in a generic sense,” Brown said. “We are working very closely with them on a number of matters.” Under its new McPlant line, McDonald’s also plans to develop other menu items such as plant-based chicken and breakfast sandwiches to meet growing demand for plant-based foods. McDonald’s did not announce whether these items will be made in partnership with Beyond Meat.
This week, another fast-food chain, Pizza Hut, became the first national chain in its category to offer plant-based meat toppings made by Beyond Meat, which it chose to co-brand on its menu as “Beyond Pan Pizza.”