Back in April McDonald’s in Germany began selling the Big Vegan TS, a plant-based burger made with Nestlé’s Incredible patty. In his piece on the news, author Chris asked: “will Nestlé be able to replicate this type of McDonald’s deal quickly and establish a stronghold in Europe before Beyond and Impossible can make a meaningful leap across the Atlantic?”
It’s looking more and more like the answer will be yes. Yesterday the Israeli publication Globes reported that McDonald’s Israel will start selling its own meatless burger featuring Nestlé’s Incredible patties. Called the Big Vegan, it will start off as a pilot in several locations in Tel Aviv in roughly six weeks. Pricing has not yet been revealed.
Switzerland-based Nestlé seems to be doing very well establishing itself in fast-food restaurants in Europe. What’s not as clear is if it will be able to break into the same market across the Atlantic. Nestlé is launching its plant-based Awesome burger in retail under its Sweet Earth brand this fall. Will there be an Awesome Big Mac in our future?
Probably not anytime soon. The U.S. contingent of its current fast food partner, McDonald’s, isn’t quite sold on plant-based meat yet. At its annual shareholder meeting last month, McDonald’s global chief marketing officer and menu director Silvia Lagnado said that the company was monitoring meat alternative options but didn’t yet have any plans to announce. “We obviously have to assess whether consumer demand [would be at a] level we believe would be sustained,” she said.
The consumer demand is certainly there right now. Chains like Del Taco, Burger King, and White Castle have all seen a spike in foot traffic after introducing products featuring plant-based meat from Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat.
At the same time, McDonald’s is selling more regular burgers than ever. Last year the fast-food chain decided to switch from frozen to fresh beef, and reportedly sold 40 million more quarter pounders in the U.S. in Q1 than it did a year ago. Maybe McDonald’s is thinking if it ain’t broke, why make it meatless?
Nonetheless, the buzzing popularity of plant-based meat is getting harder and harder to ignore. More and more fast-food chains — from Qdoba to Carl’s Jr. — are embracing meat alternatives. Eventually I’m betting that the pressure to introduce vegan options will become so great that McDonald’s will give in and put a plant-based burger on its menu. The real question is whether it will be from Nestlé or another alt-meat player.