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McDonald's Highly Anticipated New Burger Is Still Out of Reach for Americans

The company has been mum on when we can expect the highly anticipated domestic debut of the McPlant.

When McDonald's announced it was developing its first-ever plant-based burger late last year, the item quickly became one of the most anticipated fast-food novelties. The chain said it had signed a three-year global agreement with Beyond Meat, their partners in the new McPlant line, and that the new protein would be made "by McDonald's, for McDonald's."

The rollout of the new McPlant burger was slated to begin sometime this year, but few details about the timeline and the locations of its release were available. The fast-food giant did begin testing the item in two European countries, but there have so far been no updates on when American customers might expect the first taste.

The McPlant line of plant-based proteins is expected to include burger and breakfast sandwich patties made from pea and rice protein. Later on, even faux chicken could be added to the mix, the chain confirmed. According to a McDonald's blog post, the company is confident in the new burger patty and said the culinary team had "nailed it."

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"There are other plant-based burgers out there, but the McPlant delivers our iconic taste in a sink-your-teeth-in (and wipe-your-mouth) kind of sandwich," read the blog entry. "It's made with a juicy, plant-based patty and served on a warm, sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings."

mcdonalds mcplant
Veganuary/ Facebook

So far, customers in Sweden and Denmark have been the only ones to try the new McPlant "meat." McDonald's has been testing the new burger—which consists of the plant-based patty on a sesame seed bun with tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, mayonnaise-style sauce, ketchup, mustard, and American cheese—in those markets since the spring, in order to evaluate customer response which will help guide their further global timelines.

"McDonald's Sweden and Denmark are currently conducting local market tests of the McPlant at a limited number of restaurants," a McDonald's spokesperson confirmed to Eat This. "We expect other McDonald's markets will test the McPlant later this year and into the future. This will be a market-by-market decision based on local customer demand."

However, the company declined to provide a timeline for McPlant's domestic debut.

A similar test of the P.L.T. burger (plant, lettuce, tomato) in Canada, which ended up being discontinued in 2019 without a wider rollout, ended up serving as a predecessor to McPlant's creation.

It could be that McDonald's doesn't think the American market is quite ready for the big plant-based test. In a recent interview with the New York Times, CEO Chris Kempczinski spoke cautiously of the jump into the plant-based space in the United States.

"The way I approach the job today is: whatever the customer wants to buy," he said. "If they want to buy plant-based and they want to buy enough of it, I could make my whole menu plant-based. If they want to be able to buy a burger, we'll sell a burger."

The McDonald's CEO admitted some think the chain isn't moving fast enough when it comes to plant-based menu development.

"I have many friends who will say, 'Well, you're just not moving fast enough. Just change out the menu tomorrow and leave people with these choices. That's how you're going to get there.'" Kempczinski says. "Well, the reality is that's not going to force people to make the right choices. That's just going to drive them to go in a different direction."

Caution may be the way to go, considering the results of the chain's latest veggie burger test in Australia. The McVeggie was just pulled off the menus in that market due to "changes in customer demand." While McDonald's competitors like Burger King and Shake Shack boldly embrace the new plant-based trend with their own items, the wait continues for any news on the McPlant.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more