(NEXSTAR) – In November 2020, McDonald’s announced plans to begin testing the McPlant, a “delicious plant-based burger crafted for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s, and with the kind of craveable McDonald’s flavor our customers love.”
But nearly two years later — during which time several fast-food chains have debuted their own plant-based offerings — the McPlant is still seemingly no closer to obtaining a spot on the national menu.
So what happened?
In late 2021, McDonald’s began testing the McPlant at only eight U.S. locations after previously testing the burger in select European countries. In Feb. 2021, the McPlant tests expanded to around 600 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, with McDonald’s aiming to better understand “customer demand” — and that was the last they’ve mentioned of the sandwich on their corporate website.
In late July, McDonald’s quietly confirmed to CNBC these tests concluded as planned, but a representative for the restaurant made no mention of any future initiatives to offer the McPlant at U.S. locations when contacted by Nexstar.
A representative for Beyond Meat, which partnered with McDonald’s to create the McPlant patty, directed Nexstar back to McDonald’s when asked about any future plans for the burger.
It’s possible McDonald’s could be keeping mum on its plant-based plans, though analysts indicate it’s more likely that the item failed to meet sales expectations, and likely won’t be coming back.
In a note from financial services firm BTIG, obtained by MarketWatch in March and cited by Eat This this week, analysts with the firm found evidence that the McPlant failed to gain the same momentum that it demonstrated in the eight initial test restaurants, each of which had sold around 70 units per day.
Upon the rollout to San Francisco Bay and Dallas-Fort Worth, restaurants were only selling around 20 per day, with some in more rural Texas only selling between three and five, BTIG’s analysts found.
Some of the franchisees had even claimed that, since the McPlant wasn’t selling, it was being cooked to order whenever a customer requested one — which created longer wait times for customers ordering the McPlant and those waiting behind them in the drive-thru.
In their note, BTIG analysts said a nationwide launch “seems a ways off” as of March 2022.
Still, McDonald’s hasn’t completely killed the McPlant. It’s still among the vegetarian-friendly offerings in the U.K., and customers in Australia can find it on their local menus too.
Here in the U.S., however, customers looking for the McPlant may have to keep on waiting — or simply settle for an Impossible Whopper.