McDonald's to launch a McPlant vegetarian option

Jonathan Shieber
·2-min read
A customer exits the drive-thru lane at a McDonald's Corp. fast food restaurant in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. McDonald's is scheduled to release earnings figures on January 30. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer exits the drive-thru lane at a McDonald's Corp. fast food restaurant in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. McDonald's is scheduled to release earnings figures on January 30. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

McDonald's is developing what it calls a plant-based platform called the McPlant that will debut in markets around the world early next year, according to a report in USA Today.

In an investor meeting, McDonald's announced that it had worked to develop its McPlant formulation exclusively. "McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s," Ian Borden, McDonald's international president, said at an investor meeting, quoted by USA Today.

The company's special formulation could extend across plant-based products, including burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches, according to Borden.

To date, McDonald's has been a laggard in the corporate fight over plant-based burgers and chicken -- at least in the U.S.

In McDonald's sites around the world -- including locations in Germany, the U.K., Hong Kong, Israel, Canada, and Finland -- diners under the golden arches can find a vegetarian sandwich option.

Indeed, in Canada, McDonald's launched a pilot last year with Beyond Meat for the PLT sandwich (a play off of the company's previous sandwich the McDLT, I'm assuming).

Compared to some other fast food chains in the U.S., McDonald's has been something of a laggard. Burger King has worked with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper and Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC on a plant-based nugget.

The two leading alternative protein makers have done a fairly good job of carving up the fast food market to date -- but the McDonald's entry with its exclusive formulation must come as a blow to the companies (and the other startups that were hoping for a bite of the McDonald's food empire).

That includes startups like Chile's the Not Company and Hong Kong's Green Monday Holdings, which have both been vying for the McDonald's plant-based patty business.