McDonald’s develops its own faux meat in blow to Beyond

Anne Riley Moffat

McDonald’s Corp. announced it will develop its own line of faux meat, starting with a substitute burger, dealing a blow to Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc.

The world’s biggest restaurant company said its new line of products could eventually include faux chicken and meat for breakfast sandwiches. It will be called McPlant and International President Ian Borden said on a call that it will be “crafted exclusively for McDonald’s by McDonald’s.” Some markets will test the burger next year.

Beyond Meat’s shares plunged on the news, erasing gains and falling as much as 9.5%. Trading in the stock was briefly paused due to volatility. The company is scheduled to release third-quarter earnings today after the close of U.S. trading.

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The announcement upends what had been an emerging duopoly in the faux-meat world, with Beyond Meat and privately held Impossible Foods competing as the two premier makers of plant-based burgers and sausages. As the companies have rolled out their products in major restaurant and grocery chains, McDonald’s, with its 39,000 locations worldwide, was long seen as a potential crown jewel for plant-based meat producers.

McDonald’s had run a trial of a plant-based meat product supplied by Beyond Meat in parts of Canada for several months in late 2019 and early 2020. That “P.L.T.” sandwich – plant, lettuce and tomato – led some to wonder if Beyond Meat would be named the plant-based patty of choice for U.S. restaurants. However, the test was not extended past the spring.

Impossible Foods supplies Burger King with the patties for its Impossible Whopper, and Starbucks Corp. has added a sandwich with the company’s plant-based meat in the U.S. Beyond Meat, meanwhile, has partnered with Starbucks in China and provides breakfast meat for Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. Both companies have become prevalent across the industry in recent years.

Consumers are rapidly adopting plant-based meat substitutes that increasingly taste and feel like food made from beef and pork. This trend appears to have persisted amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has radically altered consumer landscape in a short period of time.

McDonald’s didn’t specify the markets where it plans to sell McPlant products.