The Great 'Fake Meat' Crisis: McDonald’s Has Given Up on McPlant, and Beyond Meat Is Plummeting

  • McDonald’s has announced that McPlant won’t return to its primary market.

  • And Beyond Meat’s deficient performance reinforces a problem.

The great "fake meat" crisis: McDonald's has given up on McPlant, and Beyond Meat is going under
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McDonald’s has states that it will no longer offer its veggie burger, the McPlant, in the U.S. For now, at least. This announcement marks the beginning of a downward trend for meat alternatives in the U.S.

Why it matters. This decision affects McDonald’s and reflects a broader trend of decline for“plant-based meat,” which experts have considered the future of food until recently.

What happened:

  • In 2022, McDonald’s introduced the McPlant, developed with Beyond Meat, to hundreds of venues in California and Texas. But demand has been insufficient.
  • Beyond Meat, a leader in the plant-based meat market, saw its sales drop 18% last quarter. It’s the company's eighth consecutive quarter of declining sales.
  • Beyond Meat went public in 2019. Over the past five years, the company's shares have decreased by 90%. Overall, they've fallen 97% from their maximum, which Beyond Meat reached five years ago.
Beyond Meat quarterly revenues
Beyond Meat quarterly revenue variation
Evolution of Beyond Meat shares

The context. A few years ago, the rise of plant-based alternatives to meat seemed unstoppable, with investors and a growing number of consumers excited about their potential. However, the reality of the marketplace is colliding with those expectations.

McDonald’s USA president Joe Erlinger addressed the issue at The Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum:

“I don’t think the American customer comes to McDonald’s looking for the McPlant or other plant-based proteins.”

Between the lines. The McPlant’s failure in the U.S. contrasts its apparent acceptance in Europe, where it’s still available in several markets, including Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

We'll have to wait and see what happens in Europe to understand whether McDonald’s decision in the U.S. will carry over to the other side of the Atlantic.

Beyond the decision. Apart from McDonald’s, the situation raises questions about the future of alternative meat. Beyond Meat is currently promoting its new line of burgers and sausages, Beyond IV, but it faces an increasingly skeptical market.

Alternative meat grew out of a rising concern about the sustainability of meat consumption but now faces another increasingly potent concern: processed foods.

In perspective. The McPlant case in the U.S. could be a turning point for the plant-based meat industry, which may have to reconsider its projections and initial enthusiasm.

Images | McDonald’s | Datawrapper | Xataka On

Related | We've Always Thought That the Authentic Paleolithic Diet Consisted in Mainly Eating Meat. We Were Wrong

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