McDonald’s to Enter the Plant-Based Burger and Crispy Chicken Sandwich Markets

McDonald’s to Enter the Plant-Based Burger and Crispy Chicken Sandwich Markets

McDonald’s is entering the plant-based market by introducing the McPlant, which will be available in 2021. Credits: McDonald's

McPlant is the new plant-based menu category at McDonald’s, a move that has been hinted at for a while as McDonald’s started exploring meatless menu options a few years ago. McPlant will debut in markets around the world early next year.

McPlant will include a selection of meat alternative products that will initially feature plant-based burgers, and could eventually include chicken substitutes, breakfast sandwiches and other offerings, depending on the market interest.

“We have a very flexible framework here. McPlant is going to be a global core menu optional item, so a market can pull that down if they think there is a customer demand opportunity for it,” said McDonald’s president and CEO Chris Kempczinsk, in a statement.

“McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” Ian Borden, McDonald’s international president, said at the investor meeting. “In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products, including burgers, chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches.”

McDonald’s is now also entering the crispy chicken market as well. The food giant will test two new sandwiches, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and the Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich, in Houston and Knoxville.

Chick-fil-A and Popeyes have taken the world by storm with their crispy chicken sandwiches, which were selling out at restaurants after line-ups were forming outside their stores. Earlier this year, before the new Popeyes chicken sandwich was introduced, the McDonald’s US franchise owners’ National Owners Association said that a new premium chicken sandwich should be McDonald’s top priority.

“A favorite, that our customers want, is a chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, they have to go to Chick-fil-A for it,” the National Owners Association’s board wrote in a July letter. “Yes, we have great Chicken Mcnuggets and our McChicken is a very good product. But we do not compete in the premium chicken sandwich category, either grilled or crispy.”

Related: McDonald’s is Bringing Plant-Based Burgers to Canada

The plant-based and chicken sandwich announcements are part of the company’s new growth strategy called “Accelerating the Arches.” As stated in the company’s press release, “the strategy includes a refreshed purpose to feed and foster the communities McDonald’s and its franchisees serve around the world, updated values that guide actions and behaviors, and growth pillars that build on McDonald’s competitive advantages.”

There are three main pillars for this strategy, which include maximizing their marketing, committing to the core of customer demand by focusing on serving delicious burgers, chicken and coffee, and, finally, doubling down on the three D’s: digital, delivery and drive-thru.

“In countries around the world, we have seen customer behaviors change at an unprecedented pace over the last several months. We believe this presents an opportunity to do something special as we write the next great chapter of McDonald’s,” said Kempczinski in a statement. “By embracing a bigger, more holistic vision for the future, Accelerating the Arches defines how McDonald’s will deliver value to all stakeholders by providing a clear roadmap of what we can do for the millions of customers, in the thousands of communities, we serve each and every day. With our new growth strategy, we will build on our inherent strengths by harnessing our competitive advantages and investing in innovations that enable us to continue to offer fast, easy moments for our customers.”

In addition to being slow to enter the crispy chicken sandwich market, McDonald’s is behind in the plant-based burger category. Last year, Burger King launched the Impossible Whopper using patties from food start-up Impossible Foods. A&W also introduced their plant-based burgers nationwide early last year using the Beyond Meat patty.

“There are other plant-based burgers out there, but the McPlant delivers our iconic taste in a sink-your-teeth-in (and wipe-your-mouth) kind of sandwich,” McDonald’s said in a blog post. “It’s made with a juicy, plant-based patty and served on a warm, sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings.”

Last year, McDonald’s was testing a plant-based burger called the P.L.T, which is an acronym for “plant, lettuce and tomato” featuring a patty exclusively made by Beyond Meat for McDonald’s. However, this test trial ended earlier this year with no set plans for a new plant-based option, until now.

“Markets can adopt the McPlant when they’re ready and we expect some to test the burger next year. In the meantime, we can’t wait to show you what’s next,” said McDonald’s in their press release.