The chain also announced an update to their chicken sandwich.

By Mike Pomranz
November 09, 2020
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Over the past decade—aided by the rivalry of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods—plant-based meat alternatives exploded onto the culinary scene. Part of that meat-free arms race has been a battle to get plant-based items into major chains. To date, Impossible has probably scored the biggest burger win with Burger King’s Impossible Whopper (after debuting the first nationwide patty rollout at White Castle). Meanwhile, Beyond flirted with greatness: landing a test with McDonald’s in Canada. But this summer, MickeyD’s ended that test. And now, we may know the reason why.

Today, McDonald’s has announced plans to enter the plant-based burger battle alone with the forthcoming McPlant—a beefless burger made exclusively for the chain by a supplier.

Credit: McDonald's

“McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” Ian Borden, McDonald's international president, stated. “In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products including burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches…. We are excited about the opportunity because we believe we have a proven, delicious-tasting product. When customers are ready for it, we are ready for them.”

Though specifics remained slim, McDonald’s continued to talk up the forthcoming new menu item on a public post on their website. “Based on what we learned [in Canada] and an encouraging response, we’re excited to give you a sneak preview of the McPlant—a delicious plant-based burger … with the kind of craveable McDonald’s flavor our customers love,” the company stated. “In fact, we think our culinary team nailed it. 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. It’s made with a juicy, plant-based patty and served on a warm, sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings.”

As far as when the McPlant may debut, McDonald’s obliquely stated, “Markets can adopt the McPlant when they’re ready and we expect some to test the burger next year.”

In the interim, however, the chain may have overshadowed what could be an even more lucrative announcement: They’re also finally launching a new Popeyes/Chick-fil-A-competing Crispy Chicken Sandwich next year. “It will be simple, but fantastic—a craveable crispy chicken fillet, topped with crinkle cut pickles and butter, all served on a toasted potato roll. Our customers asked for it and we can’t wait for them to get a taste,” McDonald’s wrote.

When it comes to trendy menu items, apparently 2021 is the year McDonald’s is saying “better late than never.”