Mcdonald’s entering plant-based burger game


Would you eat a McPlant?

FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook demonstrates an order kiosk, with cashier Esmirna DeLeon, during a presentation at a McDonald’s restaurant in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. McDonald’s has started testing mobile order-and-pay after acknowledging the ordering process in its restaurants can be “stressful.” The company is testing the option in California and Washington ahead of a national launch in the U.S. toward the end of 2017. Easterbrook has noted the initial stages of visiting can be “stressful” and that the company is making changes to improve the overall customer experience. That includes the introduction of ordering kiosks, which executives say can help ease lines at the counter and improve order accuracy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(NEXSTAR/AP) — McDonalds is planning to test the “McPlant,” an imitation meat burger for vegans and those following plant-based diets. McDonald’s competitor Burger King has offered an Impossible Burger branded Whopper since August 2019.

Shares of another plant-based burger maker, Beyond Meat, reportedly fell Monday morning after the news broke.

On a call with investors Monday, McDonald’s executives announced plans to test out the McPlant beginning in 2021. Mcdonald’s previously tested Beyond Meat patties at Canadian franchises earlier this year, phasing out that trial in spring. The company has worked internally to produce the McPlant.

In a virtual meeting, McDonald’s also said a much-anticipated crispy chicken sandwich with pickles—an apparent salvo against competitors like Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A—will go on sale in the U.S. early next year.

With new choices like spicy chicken nuggets and a meal deal promotions with rapper Travis Scott, McDonald’s exceeded most projections for the third quarter. It wasn’t the same story outside of the U.S., where sales between July and September failed to match last year’s levels, and McDonald’s warned that a resurgence of coronavirus cases in key markets like France, Germany, and the U.K. could force dining room closures and other restrictions.

“We’re pleased with our recovery to date, but we also understand there inevitably will be more starts and stops with the virus resurgences,” McDonald’s Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ozan said Monday in a conference call with investors.

Infections in the U.S. have now begun to surge as well. But 95% of U.S. McDonald’s have drive-thru windows, which has allowed restaurants to continue to operate even though less than 20% have opened their dining rooms. Globally, only 65% of McDonald’s have drive-thru windows.

Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker reported more than 50.2 million COVID-19 cases globally as of Sunday. The U.S., with about 4% of the world’s population, represents almost a fifth of all reported cases.

McDonald’s same-store sales—or sales at locations open at least a year—jumped 4.6% in the U.S. Customer traffic fell, but when diners came, they spent more on larger group orders. Dinner was particularly strong, McDonald’s said, but other times of day were elevated as well.

The meal promotion with Scott, introduced in September, was the first time McDonald’s featured a celebrity’s name on its menu since a Michael Jordan-branded meal deal in 1992. For $6, customers could order Scott’s favorite meal: a Quarter Pounder, fries, and a Sprite. Scott’s Cactus Jack brand also designed clothes for McDonald’s employees.

Ozan said there will be more celebrity tie-ups to come. Last month, McDonald’s introduced a limited-time meal collaboration with Colombian singer J. Balvin. McDonald’s also got a lift from the September introduction of spicy McNuggets. It was the first time the company had introduced a new style since McNuggets debuted in 1983. In December, McDonald’s plans to bring back the McRib sandwich for a limited time. It’s the first time in eight years that the McRib will be on U.S. menus.

Globally, McDonald’s same-store sales fell 2.2% in the third quarter, with sales increases in Japan and Australia offset by declines in China, Europe, and Latin America. Still, that was significantly better than the 24% drop the company saw in the second quarter.

Third-quarter net income rose 10% to $1.8 billion. Earnings, adjusted for one-time items, were $2.22 per share.

That surpassed Wall Street’s expectations of $1.91 per share, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue fell 2% to $5.4 billion. That was in line with expectations. Shares of the Chicago company slipped nearly 2% in midday trading.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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