Courtesy of Beyond Meat

The meat-free burger brand has already infiltrated TGI Friday’s, but it’s got even bigger ambitions.

Mike Pomranz
January 24, 2018

Just this past September, we ran the headline “Beyond Meat Is About to Hit the Bigtime.” The plant-based meat brand—most famous for its “bleeding” vegan Beyond Burger patty—had just signed a deal with North America’s largest food distributor, Sysco, ensuring that its highly-touted beef burger alternative would be in front of more customers than ever before. But to hear the company’s founder and CEO Ethan Brown tell it, this still might just be the beginning: He has his sights set on infiltrating the biggest burger chains in the world as well.

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur.com, Brown was asked about the prospects of his company’s Beyond Burgers landing at major fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s. His response was stunning: “I'm very confident that's going to happen, because I think the consumer is turning so quickly,” Brown was quoted as saying. “Once we break the code and get to the point where it's indistinguishable from animal protein, I think you will see that shift.”

But Brown has reason to be optimistic. Less than two years ago, we were talking about how exciting it was that these burgers were available at Whole Foods. Now, to kick off 2018, Beyond Burgers can be found on the menu at one of America’s largest casual dining chains, TGI Fridays. And not only that, but Fridays called the move the fastest test-to-table launch in the restaurant’s history. “Beyond Meat is leading the way in creating a juicy and delicious product that gives guests the sensory experience of a traditional burger without sacrificing taste,” David Spirito, TGI Fridays’ Executive Culinary Director, said at the time. Beyond Burgers are also found on the menu at a dozen of Manhattan's Bareburger locations, with a nationwide rollout on the way.

Of course, tackling a chain like McDonald’s is likely a whole different ballgame. It’s not that McDonald’s isn’t interested in plant-based burgers. The global powerhouse recently added a McVegan to its permanent menus in Finland and Sweden. Instead, part of the issue would be whether a massive chain like McDonald’s—or Burger King or Wendy’s—would want to partner with Beyond Meat instead of forging their own way on the plant-based burger front. But then again, if making truly delicious vegan burger patties was easy, Beyond Meat wouldn’t be famous for doing it, would they?