McDonald’s tests out new plant-based burger in Canada

McDonald’s has introduced a new plant, lettuce, and tomato burger called the P.L.T. in Canada. The price is also being lowered.

Quinn Patrick Montreal QC

Correction: A previous version of  this article incorrectly called the P.LT. a vegan burger. The standard P.L.T. includes processed cheddar and mayonnaise-style sauce.

McDonald’s has introduced a plant-based burger to compete with other chains that are doing the same. The burger is called the P.L.T., an acronym for plant, lettuce, and tomato. It’s currently available at 52 locations in Southwestern Ontario, according to recent article in Forbes Magazine.

“The burger is not vegan– the patty is made with plant-based protein. The standard P.L.T. contains ingredients that are not plant-based, such as processed cheddar and mayonnaise-style sauce,” said a spokesperson with Integrated Media on behalf of McDonald’s. “As always, guests can customize and request  to hold the cheese and mayo, or any ingredients, however, the patty will be cooked on the same grill as other burgers, meat-based products, and eggs.”

McDonald’s is cutting the price of the P.L.T. from its original $6.49 Canadian (US$4.90), down to $5.99 as of Jan. 14. In a combo with fries and a drink for $9.89 Canadian (US$7.46). As of Monday, McDonald’s said the P.L.T. will now cost $5.99 Canadian as of January 14. The price drop appears to be due to consumer complaints.

“The initial test of the P.L.T. allowed us to learn more about guest demand and how to integrate this new menu item into restaurant kitchen operations, while delivering the P.L.T. to our guests with the level of quality and crave-ability they know and love from McDonald’s,” Jeff Anderson, said in a statement. Anderson serves as the chef of McDonald’s Canada.

“As a test and learn company, the McDonald’s expansion of the P.L.T. into more restaurants in the Southwestern Ontario region will help us learn more about our guests’ tastes while continuing to provide variety within our menu.”

The P.L.T. was introduced September 30, and it was McDonald’s debut for a plant-based alternative burger. Competitors such as Burger King, White Castle and Del Taco had already done so, along with numerous other independent restaurants.

The difference however is that while Burger King offers a plant-based patty on its existing Whopper, McDonald’s created an entirely new sandwich garnished with lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo. Add-ons such as bacon are available for purchase as well.

Some consumers have complained about the size of the plant-based patty however as it is about the size of a regular cheeseburger and not like a quarter-pounder or other gourmet featured burgers on the menu.

“We gathered a lot of feedback in the initial test about what people like about the P.L.T.,” said Michaela Charette, head of consumer insights at McDonald’s Canada.

“As we expand the test, we’re continuing to listen to our guests across Southwestern Ontario and assess the appetite for a plant-based alternative within the McDonald’s menu.”

It was a strategic move for McDonald’s to test the P.L.T. in Canada, as opposed to the U.S. because testing it there first may have brought on too much media attention for a product they have yet to master.

McDonald’s will still have to see how it’s able to handle acquiring the ingredients and delivery for its newest edition. They are currently shopping around for a plant-based supplier that is going to be able to handle the quantity necessary for demands as big as theirs over the long run. They had been previously using Impossible Foods however the company had to back out of their contract for just that reason.

“It would be stupid for us to be vying for them right now … Having more big customers right now doesn’t do us any good until we scale up production.” said Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown.

At this point it appears Beyond Meat may be the only supplier big enough to handle supplying a company like McDonald’s.

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