McDonald’s launches Beyond Meat burger pilot in 28 Ontario restaurants

Will include a Beyond Meat patty that will taste different than those offered at other fast-food chains

More than a year after A&W became the first Canadian fast-food chain to sell the Beyond Meat burger, McDonald’s Canada is set to roll out a limited pilot of the plant-based patty to test its customer’s appetite for vegetarian eats.

“We know we’re not first,” Michaela Charette, the company’s head of consumer insights, said in an interview. “We’ve been taking our time to get it right,”

McDonald’s will start serving a PLT sandwich — plant, lettuce and tomato — at 28 restaurants in southwestern Ontario, including locations in London and Sarnia, on Monday.

The item’s main component is a Beyond Meat patty that will taste different than those on offer at other fast-food chains in Canada. Beyond Meat usually works with retailers to create a unique taste for their target demographic.

The trial is intended to be a global test, meaning McDonald’s could roll out the PLT in all of its markets, which span more than 100 countries.

Charette and chef Jeff Anderson, both of McDonald’s Canada, were tight-lipped on what specific metrics the company needs to see to roll out the PLT globally.

McDonald’s will collect consumer feedback on taste, track demand for the new menu item and watch to see if its preparation impacts restaurant operations.

It will also be looking to for data on whether vegans and vegetarians buy the burger, versus people who also consume meat, Charette said.

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s Canada has put veggie burgers on the menu.

It last introduced one — the McVeggie Deluxe — in June 2002. The restaurant pulled the soy-based patty sandwich from the menu “due to softer sales” in 2005, a spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The company believes more than a decade later, its customers are ready to embrace a vegetarian option.

ALSO READ: White Spot to add new 100% plant-based patty to menu

“Our guests and consumers, their taste palates, their preferences change,” Anderson said.

The pilot will help the company understand if their customers do, in fact, want a Beyond Meat option.

Demand does appear to be shifting in Canada toward more plant-based protein, due to a combination of financial, environmental, humanitarian and health reasons. Canada’s new food guide, released earlier this year, encourages people to eat more plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts and tofu, over meat.

In response, eateries and manufacturers increasingly offer vegetarian options.

A&W first introduced Beyond Meat patties in early 2018, setting off a ripple effect in the fast-food industry. Since then, Subway Restaurants announced a Beyond Meatball marinara sub would come to select Canadian locations this September for a limited time. Vancouver-based White Spot Restaurants started serving Beyond Meat burgers, while Quesada Burritos & Tacos offered up a Beyond Meat burrito — just to name a few.

On the manufacturing side, Maple Leaf Foods acquired two alternative protein makers, Lightlife Foods and Field Roast Grain Meat Co., in recent history. Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain defended Lightlife’s vegetarian burger during a recent quarterly earnings call with analysts, saying it will be more widely distributed than Beyond Meat’s products.

The move to plant-based protein hasn’t worked out for all, however.

Restaurant Brands International added Beyond Meat burgers and breakfast sandwiches across Canada some three months ago, before deciding to remove the burgers nationally and breakfast sandwiches everywhere but Ontario and B.C. earlier this month. The decision was apparently made based on sales volumes.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Box containing hundreds of family photos found in Courtenay returned to rightful owner

Local media sources collaborate to solve family photos mystery

Two Comox Valley groups share annual Project Watershed award

Keep It Living Award given to Morrison Creek Streamkeepers and Comox Valley Land Trust

ATV crash at bottom of Mount Washington sends two to hospital

Two people were hospitalized following an ATV (all terrain vehicle) accident shortly… Continue reading

Game on! Outdoor pickleball season starts up in the Comox Valley

Comox Valley Pickleball Association members Evie MacDonald and Donny Cruickshank (near court)… Continue reading

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Comox Valley business map offers information on local eateries, grocery stores and more

Search and click for hours and services offered during the COVID-19 pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP told of alleged assault in Courtenay hours after the fact

Police only made aware of possible attack through social media posts

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Comox Valley United appeals to district to support field house proposal

The Comox Valley United Soccer Club is looking for an approximate $150,000… Continue reading

Habitat for Humanity VIN wins national award for innovative approach to building

Courtenay and Campbell River builds represent 400 per cent growth in historical annual average

Most Read