McDonald's Reveals Burger Test Failed: Would You Have Ordered One?

Don't expect plant-based items on U.S. McDonald's menus soon.

U.S. president Joe Erlinger said the McPlant test two years ago didn't go well in Dallas and San Francisco. He spoke at the Wall Street Journal's Global Food Forum in Chicago.

Erlinger noted success with plant-based products in Europe, but U.S. consumers aren't interested, according to Bloomberg. He mentioned McDonald's would relaunch salads if there was demand, but there isn't.

The McPlant was initially tested in select Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, and California markets in November 2021. Financial services firm BTIG reported it sold about 500 burgers per week.

But an expanded February 2022 test in 600 locations saw performance drop. Analyst Peter Saleh said sales fell to about 20 per day, with only three to five in rural areas. The low volume required cooking to order, lengthening drive-thru times by a minute. Franchisees were unimpressed, casting doubt on a national rollout.

Introduced in 2020, the McPlant features a patty made from peas, rice, and potatoes, with standard burger toppings on a sesame seed bun. Beyond Meat was the supplier. Marketed to flexitarians, it's cooked on the same equipment as meat items. The U.S. test faltered, but the McPlant succeeded in Europe, launching in all U.K. and Ireland stores after a successful pilot.

Erlinger said McDonald's is focusing more on chicken, which is performing better than beef, Bloomberg said. The chain revealed in February that its McCrispy sandwich has become a $1 billion brand in over 30 markets worldwide. The chicken category now represents $25 billion in annual systemwide sales.