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McDonald's ditched meat-free burger in US because of poor sales, executive admits
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McDonald's ditched meat-free burger in US because of poor sales, executive admits

Fast-food giant now 'excited' about chicken options on menu.

Years after McDonald's tested a meat-free burger option in limited markets, its highest executive in America has finally admitted that the plant-based burger was pulled because of poor sales.

Last week, Joe Erlinger, the president of McDonald's in the U.S., attended the Wall Street Journal's Global Food Forum, where he was asked about his company's future plans for plant-based products. Erlinger noted that McDonald's had already tested such a meat-free option, the McPlant, with disastrous results.

'I don’t think the US consumer is coming to McDonald’s or looking for McPlant or other plant-based proteins from McDonald’s.'

From late 2021 until July 2022, stores in Dallas and San Francisco offered the McPlant, codeveloped by Beyond Meat and made mainly of peas, rice, and potatoes. Erlinger said those cities were selected because they were "very different markets" and indicated that they might be able to give the company a good idea of the demand for plant-based menu options.

According to Aol.com, the McPlant initially sold better than expected, prompting McDonald's to expand the option to 600 additional stores. Shortly thereafter, sales tanked.

By June 2022, Dallas-Fort Worth stores averaged about 13 McPlant sales per day, though executives had hoped for 30 or 40. San Francisco stores likewise fell well short of the 125 or 130 McPlant sales expected per week.

In short, the McPlant "was not successful in either market," Erlinger told the WSJ.

"I don’t think the U.S. consumer is coming to McDonald’s or looking for McPlant or other plant-based proteins from McDonald’s now."

American consumers may have cooled on meat-free burgers, but their European counterparts have not. In fact, the McPlant has sold so well in the U.K. and the Netherlands that some stores there have made it a permanent menu item.

While Erlinger stated that McDonald's would "continue to monitor" plant-based product trends stateside, he indicated American stores had moved beyond meatless products. He also said that salads were unlikely to return to McDonald's.

"If people really want salads from McDonald's, we will gladly relaunch salads," Erlinger said. "But what our experience has proven is that's not what the consumer's looking for."

Perhaps not wanting to spend too much time talking about failed menu items, Erlinger quickly pivoted to discuss other items that have been a consistent hit with consumers.

"The bigger trend around protein consumption is really around chicken," he claimed.

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski made similar remarks about the prospects of chicken earlier this year. "[We’re] also excited to further build on our success in chicken by continuing to invest in beloved icons like McNuggets and McChicken while further scaling the emerging favorites like McCrispy and McSpicy," he said in February.

"These four equities are the building blocks of our growing chicken business, and we see the potential to add another point of chicken share by 2026, in part through an expansion of our McCrispy platform into wraps and tenders."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →