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McDonald’s drops Beyond Meat-based burgers after test run

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The McPlant, which features a plant-based patty by Beyond Meat, was quietly dropped from the menu in U.S. restaurants, marking another blow to the plant-based meat alternative mogul.

McDonald’s completed its limited-time test run of the McPlant, a burger featuring a plant-based patty that was developed in partnership with Beyond Meat exclusively for the fast-food giant. No plans have been announced by McDonald’s to keep the plant-based option on the menu. 

McDonald’s launched the pilot program in November 2021 at eight U.S. restaurants in Texas, Iowa, Louisiana and California. In February, the pilot was expanded to an additional 600 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay and Dallas-Fort Worth areas.  

At the pilot’s onset, McDonald’s indicated the McPlant would be available as part of the pilot for a limited time while supplies last. The company confirmed to Food & Beverage Insider in August the test run concluded as planned.  

The McPlant patty, which was co-developed with Beyond Meat, is made from plant-based ingredients, including peas, rice and potatoes. According to Beyond Meat, the collaboration with McDonald’s, which began in 2021 as a three-year partnership, would also explore co-developing other plant-based menu items as part of McDonald’s broader McPlant platform, such as options for chicken, pork and egg.  

The McPlant was also offered in certain international markets, including at more than 250 locations across Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and the U.K., and 270 locations in Australia, also as a limited-time menu addition. McDonald’s in January rolled out the plant-based menu item to all restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland.  

Unlike the U.S. and Australian versions of the McPlant, which include non-vegan ingredients like American cheese and mayonnaise, the U.K. version includes a pea protein-based vegan cheese, a vegan sandwich sauce and a vegan sesame seed bun. The U.K. version is also cooked separately from meat products and with different utensils, which is not the case at U.S. and Australian locations.  

The dismissal of the McPlant in U.S. markets marks another blow to Beyond Meat, a leading producer of plant-based meat alternatives. Following the announcement of McDonald’s ending its U.S. test of the McPlant, shares of Beyond Meat fell 6% in morning trading, per CNBC report

In recent months, the company came under fire in lawsuits that allege the company’s claims about the protein content of its products are “false and misleading.”  

One of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of Don Lee Farms, a producer of meat- and plant-based proteins, alleged Beyond Meat overstated the protein content of its products by up to 30%. Another class action lawsuit contends the alternative-meat mogul knowingly failed to follow federal regulations for appropriate testing methods to determine protein content and, as a result, misrepresented the nature and quality of its products. 

Beyond Meat also suffered blows at the drive-thru. Reuters reported fast food chains Dunkin, Hardee's and A&W discontinued products that featured Beyond Meat plant-based alternatives after launching.  

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