Why doesn’t McDonald’s have a plant-based burger?

(KTLA) – Consumers seemingly didn’t love McDonald’s McPlant, the company’s version of a plant-based burger.

During the Wall Street Journal's Global Food Forum, Joe Erlinger, the president of McDonald’s USA, said that the meatless burger “was not successful” in San Francisco and Dallas during a testing phase in 2021.

“I don’t think the U.S. consumer is coming to McDonald’s looking for the McPlant or other plant-based proteins,” Erlinger said.

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Analysts had predicted as much when McDonald's had confirmed in 2022 that testing had concluded. In a note from financial services firm BTIG, obtained by MarketWatch in March, it was revealed that restaurants in the Bay Area and Dallas-Fort Worth were selling only around 20 McPlants daily — fewer than the 40 to 60 they had expected. Some restaurants, in more rural areas of Texas, had only sold between three and five per day, BTIG’s analysts found.

McDonald's teased its plant-based burger years ago. So what happened to it? (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The analysts determined that the McPlant was failing to gain the same momentum that it demonstrated during a previous test run, when it sold around 70 units per day, per restaurant, during an earlier test at eight McDonald's locations, according to the report.

Some of the franchisees had even claimed that, since the McPlant wasn’t selling, it was being cooked to order whenever a customer requested one — which created longer wait times for customers ordering the McPlant and those waiting behind them in the drive-thru.

The company had since ended its limited test run of the McPlant without disclosing any plans for a potential nationwide debut.

Still, McDonald’s hasn’t completely killed the McPlant. The burger, developed with Beyond Meat, is still among the vegetarian-friendly offerings in the U.K. It can also be found on the McDonald's menus in Germany and Austria.

During the Global Food Forum, Erlinger also suggested that McDonald's won't be bringing back the salads that were discontinued in the U.S. during supply-chain issues caused by the the COVID-19 pandemic. The company will, however, continue investing heavily in its chicken products, he said.

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According to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes alternatives to animal proteins, meat alternatives grew in popularity in the U.S. in 2019 and 2021, but their popularity lessened in 2022 and declined in 2023.

Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.

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