Beyond Meat secures McDonald’s supply deal as the first McPlant burgers roll out in Europe

Beyond Meat has secured a three-year supply agreement with McDonald’s for the fast-food restaurant’s McPlant burger. Market tests have already begun in Europe.

The US plant-based meat alternative company will be McDonald’s ‘preferred supplier’ for the patty in its McPlant.

The first McPlants hit Europe

McDonald’s is testing its new plant-based burger in selected restaurant locations globally, starting in Europe.

The first local market tests kickstarted in Sweden on 5 January 2021 and will run through until 15 March at nine restaurant locations. McDonald’s also rolled out the McPlant into 14 restaurant locations in Denmark on 19 January. These tests will conclude on 12 April.

The fast-food restaurant expects to test other markets later this year and into the future, with sites selected according to local demand.

The burger is the first product in the McPlant range, but Beyond Meat revealed it will explore co-developing other plant-based menu items with McDonalds, such as plant-based options for chicken, pork and egg.

Recipe details were not disclosed, but the most recent iteration of the Beyond Burger includes a combination of proteins sourced from peas, mung bean, and brown rice.

French ingredients specialist Roquette is a supplier of pea protein isolate – the product’s main ingredient – to Beyond Meat. Last year, the companies embarked on an updated, three-year agreement to ‘significantly’ boost the amount supplied, compared to 2019 figures.

A ‘milestone’ agreement for Beyond Meat

For McDonald’s, the McPlant platform will help increase consumer choice. “We’re excited to work with Beyond Meat to drive innovation in this space, and entering into this strategic agreement is an important step in our journey to bring delicious, high quality, plant-based menu items to our customers,” said McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer Francesca DeBiase.

Beyond Meat said the strategic global agreements represent an ‘exciting milestone’ for the Los Angeles-based food tech company. “We will combine the power of Beyond Meat’s rapid and relentless approach to innovation with the strength of McDonald’s global brand to introduce craveable, new plant-based menu items that consumers will love,” said Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown.

The news comes less than one year after Beyond Meat opened its first manufacturing facility in Europe, in partnership with Dutch meat company Zanderbergen. The co-packing site is located in Zoeterwoude in the western Netherlands.

Last year, the company also acquired its first Beyond Meat-owned facility outside of Missouri in the US: a facility in Eschede in the east of the Netherlands that allows for end-to-end manufacturing capabilities in Europe.

Yum! Brands ink supply deal

At the same time, Beyond Meat also announced a global strategic partnership with Yum! Brands to co-create plant-based protein items for its restaurant chains KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

“We are honoured to enter into a global strategic partnership with Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest restaurant companies. We look forward to expanding our work with the teams at Yum’s iconic KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands to together bring truly delicious plant-based product innovation to consumers,” said Beyond Meat’s Brown.

Yum! Brands said it is excited about the ‘long-term potential’ plant-based protein menu items have to attract more customers, especially younger consumers. “We expect this Beyond Meat partnership to strengthen our brands’ capability to offer delicious, plant-based menu items that are driven by consumer demand for more diverse protein options and our brands’ strategies in local markets.”

Both deals were welcomed by the Good Food Institute (GFI) – an NGO that promotes clean meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products – which said McDonald’s and Yum! Brands will bring plant-based meat onto mainstream menus.

“When these restaurant chains move, the entire food industry takes notice,” said GFI executive director Bruce Friedrich. “These agreements will reverberate throughout the global supply chain and send a strong signal for the future of plant-based meat in restaurants.”

Par Flora Southey (26/02/2021)

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Photo : McDonald's