McDonald's announced Thursday that its expanding tests of the meatless McPlant Burger to about 600 locations across California and Texas.
The pilot will begin February 14. The burger will soon be sold at roughly 350 stores in Dallas-Forth Worth and 260 outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"After planting the seed with a small-scale McPlant test in eight restaurants late last year, McDonald’s USA is expanding the test to select restaurants in your area to help us understand customer demand," the company said in a statement.
The Beyond Meat product was introduced in the U.S. in November, as part of a "small-scale" test at eight restaurants in Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, and California. McDonald's said the experiment was meant to show operators how offering traditional burgers and plant-based patties affects kitchens.
Global financial services firm BTIG foresaw McPlant's expansion back in mid-December, noting the burger "performed exceptionally well." However, analyst Peter Saleh said a national rollout is unlikely this year because of the current marketing calendar and scale of McDonald's system. Instead, the upcoming test at hundreds of stores will inform the burger giant on whether to move forward with a systemwide release in 2023.
BTIG said the first round of pilot restaurants were selling about 500 McPlant burgers per week, or about 70 per day, with little to no operational complexity. For perspective, Burger King sells about 20 Impossible Whoppers per day, per restaurant.
"In our view, a successful launch of McPlant in a few markets could not only open the door to a national rollout, but could also allow Beyond Meat to eventually introduce other proteins, such as Chicken, onto McDonald's menu," Saleh said in a note. "Furthermore, now that Beyond Meat is no longer exclusive with Dunkin' in the breakfast daypart, the company could partner with other brands to bring its breakfast sausage to market, including possibly Starbucks, or even further expansion with McDonald's at breakfast."
The McPlant patty includes like peas, rice, and potatoes. It's served on a sesame seed bun with tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese. The product cannot be classified as vegan because it's cooked on the same equipment as traditional meat. The menu item is catered more to flexitarians, who gravitate toward plant-based foods, but still keep meat in their diet.
The item has already been introduced in various overseas markets, including Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and most recently the U.K.
Bloomberg Intelligence, the research division of Bloomberg, published a study in August that noted the plant-based market could reach $162 billion in the next decade, compared to $29.4 billion in 2020.