Photo: McDonald's.

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It’s good to be back! I spent the past week up in the Last Frontier for a wedding (thanks for covering, Chris).

Alaska is preeeeeetty darn close to Canada. So when I read the news this morning that McDonald’s Canada will be testing out a new PLT (Plant, Lettuce, Tomatoes) burger made with a Beyond Meat patty, I wished I could have stayed a little longer and flown through Ontario to give it a taste.

How long we have been waiting for this day! I mean, we knew it would come. In the U.S. McDonald’s has been all coy, saying it would wait to see more evidence that the plant-based trend was here to stay before jumping on board. Canada isn’t exactly the U.S., but it’s pretty darn close. I’m betting if the PLT does well during its initial trial period — and if the trends we’ve seen with other plant-based fast food product launches hold true, it will — it won’t be too long before we see a plant-based burger in the Golden Arches stateside.

The question then becomes: what brand of plant-based patty will it be? Since Canada is going with the Beyond burger, it would make sense that that choice would hop across the border when the time comes.

The Awesome Burger (Photo: Hardy Wilson)

But I’m not going all-in on Beyond just yet. Earlier this week Nestlé-owned Sweet Earth Foods announced it would start selling its plant-based Awesome burger in stores starting in October. This perked up my ears since Nestlé already sells its Incredible burger at McDonald’s in Germany and Israel.

To be clear, the two products are totally different: The Awesome burger is made with yellow pea protein, the Incredible burger with soy. But the fact that Nestlé already has an established relationship with McDonald’s, even overseas, could give them an advantage if they bid to get on Mickey D’s menus stateside.

True, the Awesome burger hasn’t built up the name recognition and fan base that Beyond has — but that could potentially be a good thing. Plenty of fast-food spots already have a Beyond product on their menu: Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc. etc. Having an Awesome burger could distinguish McDonald’s from its competitors.

Really, though, it will all come down to taste. It’s too early to say if the Awesome burger can stand up to Beyond in that category. Maybe we’ll have to make a trip up to Canada to find out.

More in Burger-mania…

Jeez, this week has been one for the burgers — er, books. In addition to the aforementioned Awesome burger announcement above, the Meatless Farm, the UK-based company which recently hopped across the pond onto Whole Foods shelves in the U.S., struck a rather unusual investment deal earlier this week.

You can read the full story here, but the jist is that British broadcaster Channel 4 invested an undisclosed seven-figure sum in the alt-protein company and also snagged a piece of equity — in exchange for air time.

What I found interesting about this story was a) it shows that a wide variety of players are investing in alternative meat, beyond just VC firms, and b) it demonstrates a very creative move on Meatless Farm’s part to try and get an edge on its competitors. The grocery aisles, especially in Britain, where most major supermarkets have launched their own vegan product lines, are filling up with plant-based meat options. Meatless Farm is smart to invest in ways to get its brand in front of more consumer’s eyeballs, even if they have to give up some of their equity in the process.

If you love alt-protein and you know it, come to SKS

In case you didn’t already know, the Smart Kitchen Summit {SKS} will be returning to Seattle for its fifth year on October 7-8th (we are very, very excited). In addition to topics like food automation, restaurant tech and connected cooking, this year we’re really diving into the alternative protein space. Here’s a preview of what content you’ll see in Seattle:

    • Building a Cell-based Meat Startup with Lou Cooperhouse, President and CEO of BlueNalu and David Kay, Senior Manager of Communications (and first employee!) at Memphis Meats
    • Eater of the Future: The Plant-Based Revolution with PK Newby, a researcher from Harvard, Bjorn Öste, the Co-Founder of Oatly, and Daniel Scharff, Director of Strategy and Analytics for JUST
    • Growing Protein: The Emerging Food Tech Ingredient Market with Dr. Lisa Dyson, CEO of Air Protein (a subdivision of Kiverdi), Perumal Gandhi, co-founder of Perfect Day, and Michele Fite, Chief Commercial Officer for Motif Foodworks

Yeah, it’s going to be awesome. If you want to join in the conversation and meet these amazing folks in person, grab your tickets to SKS now. You can use the code NEWSLETTER to get a cool 25% off!

Protein ’round the web

That’s it from me! Talk to you all next week.

Eat well,
Catherine

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