After months of wondering which fake meat McDonald’s would finally put on its menus, we’re one step closer to an answer. Today Impossible Foods told Reuters that it was no longer trying to win a deal to supply the largest fast-food chain in the world, stating that it could not produce enough “bleeding” plant-based meat to keep them supplied.
Production is a looming concern for Impossible. At the unveil of its new plant-based pork at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, CEO Pat Brown told the audience that production capacity was the company’s “biggest challenge right now.” Nonetheless, Impossible is expanding its partnership with Burger King, which will begin serving the Impossible Croissan’wich, featuring Impossible’s new faux sausage, this month. It also told CNBC that it’s doubling its R&D team over the next year to speed up new product releases.
But that’s not all. The day after this news broke, McDonald’s and Beyond Meat announced that they were expanding their partnership in Canada. McDonald’s began testing the PLT (Plant, Lettuce, Tomato) sandwich, which is made with a Beyond Meat patty, at 28 restaurants in Southern Ontario last September. Starting this week they’re almost doubling that test to fifty-two restaurants in the Ontario area. The test will last for the next three months.
Put all of these clues together, and it doesn’t take a genius to guess that McDonalds’ in the U.S. could soon be rolling out a Beyond Meat burger. If they do, it would be a smart move for Mickey D’s. Burger King has benefitted enormously from its partnership with Impossible Foods. As more and more fast-food chains embrace plant-based meat — on all parts of their menu, including breakfast — the more notable it is that McDonald’s doesn’t have a meatless meat offering
The big question on my mind — besides when this new menu item will launch — is what a McDonald’s Beyond burger might be called. As I’ve written previously, I have some issues with the name P.L.T. because a) the sandwich doesn’t have any bacon, faux or otherwise, and b) it doesn’t leverage the Beyond brand. If they launch a Beyond offering in the U.S., McDonald’s would be smart to follow Burger King’s lead and put the Beyond name in it.
Whatever they call it, Beyond better wait to make that leap until it’s sure that it can do what Impossible could not: keep up with the massive demand of the number one fast-food chain in the world. At this stage, when alternative meat is starting to gain new audiences from QSR partnerships, a supply hiccup could put off consumers — and it might be hard to get them back. Especially with a fast-food chain that’s pretty much ubiquitous with burgers.
Beyond’s CEO Ethan Brown has previously stated that they were prepared to supply even very large restaurant partners. But will that include the largest restaurant chain in the world? With McDonald’s slowly (but surely) expanding its test of the PLT — and Impossible out of the picture — I’m betting we’ll soon find out.