McDonald’s launches Beyond Meat burger pilot in 28 Ontario restaurants

Will include a Beyond Meat patty that will taste different than those offered at other fast-food chains

More than a year after A&W became the first Canadian fast-food chain to sell the Beyond Meat burger, McDonald’s Canada is set to roll out a limited pilot of the plant-based patty to test its customer’s appetite for vegetarian eats.

“We know we’re not first,” Michaela Charette, the company’s head of consumer insights, said in an interview. “We’ve been taking our time to get it right,”

McDonald’s will start serving a PLT sandwich — plant, lettuce and tomato — at 28 restaurants in southwestern Ontario, including locations in London and Sarnia, on Monday.

The item’s main component is a Beyond Meat patty that will taste different than those on offer at other fast-food chains in Canada. Beyond Meat usually works with retailers to create a unique taste for their target demographic.

The trial is intended to be a global test, meaning McDonald’s could roll out the PLT in all of its markets, which span more than 100 countries.

Charette and chef Jeff Anderson, both of McDonald’s Canada, were tight-lipped on what specific metrics the company needs to see to roll out the PLT globally.

McDonald’s will collect consumer feedback on taste, track demand for the new menu item and watch to see if its preparation impacts restaurant operations.

It will also be looking to for data on whether vegans and vegetarians buy the burger, versus people who also consume meat, Charette said.

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s Canada has put veggie burgers on the menu.

It last introduced one — the McVeggie Deluxe — in June 2002. The restaurant pulled the soy-based patty sandwich from the menu “due to softer sales” in 2005, a spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The company believes more than a decade later, its customers are ready to embrace a vegetarian option.

ALSO READ: White Spot to add new 100% plant-based patty to menu

“Our guests and consumers, their taste palates, their preferences change,” Anderson said.

The pilot will help the company understand if their customers do, in fact, want a Beyond Meat option.

Demand does appear to be shifting in Canada toward more plant-based protein, due to a combination of financial, environmental, humanitarian and health reasons. Canada’s new food guide, released earlier this year, encourages people to eat more plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts and tofu, over meat.

In response, eateries and manufacturers increasingly offer vegetarian options.

A&W first introduced Beyond Meat patties in early 2018, setting off a ripple effect in the fast-food industry. Since then, Subway Restaurants announced a Beyond Meatball marinara sub would come to select Canadian locations this September for a limited time. Vancouver-based White Spot Restaurants started serving Beyond Meat burgers, while Quesada Burritos & Tacos offered up a Beyond Meat burrito — just to name a few.

On the manufacturing side, Maple Leaf Foods acquired two alternative protein makers, Lightlife Foods and Field Roast Grain Meat Co., in recent history. Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain defended Lightlife’s vegetarian burger during a recent quarterly earnings call with analysts, saying it will be more widely distributed than Beyond Meat’s products.

The move to plant-based protein hasn’t worked out for all, however.

Restaurant Brands International added Beyond Meat burgers and breakfast sandwiches across Canada some three months ago, before deciding to remove the burgers nationally and breakfast sandwiches everywhere but Ontario and B.C. earlier this month. The decision was apparently made based on sales volumes.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Premier calls Quesnel a ‘hub of innovation’ in face of forestry downturn

Premier John Horgan tours Forestry Innovation Centre and meets with mayor, community representatives

Up to 45 exhibitors will be at Quesnel Job and Information Fair

Bring your resumé and meet representatives from the RCMP, Northern Health and many more

Letter to the editor: Quesnel Cattlemen’s Association raise concerns over West Fraser Road detour

The association is “deeply concerned” about the condition of the detour route

College of New Caledonia budget consultation session will be Jan. 31

The public consultation session will take place Friday, Jan. 31 at 3:30 p.m.

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

VIDEO: 17 Husky pups rescued from Interior B.C. property find new homes

The BC SPCA caught the moment on video the last puppy, Uki, met his owners

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Housing program to aid Indigenous people travelling far for medical care in northern B.C.

B.C. government launches temporary housing program in Prince George, Fort St. John

Most Read