The Golden Arches are Going Green: Beyond Meat Faux Chicken Nuggets Add Another Veggie Option to the McPlant Menu
Germans will be the world’s first McDonald’s customers to munch on chicken-less McPlant Nuggets. The new nuggets’ veggie centers are a mixture of peas, corn and wheat fried in a tempura batter, according to an Associated Press report. The plant-based nuggets, co-developed with the California-based company Beyond Meat, will land on menus starting next week.
McDonald’s said that its Germany-wide nugget debut will involve 1,400-plus restaurants and is a follow up to its test at nine restaurants last summer in the Stuttgart area. McDonald’s also will begin sales of its McPlant burger – another McDonald’s-Beyond Meat collaboration – in Germany next week, AP stated.
Second McDonald’s Project with Beyond Meat
McPlant Nuggets are the second menu item that the fast-food mega-chain has co-created with Beyond Meat. McDonald’s launched the companies’ collaborative McPlant burger in 2021, and it remains available in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In early January this year, McDonald’s introduced the Double McPlant in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
There’s some question whether the McPlant burger will become a U.S. menu staple, however. The Chicago-based corporation experimentally offered the McPlant burger domestically in about 600 of its U.S. restaurants, according to Bon Appetit. But McDonald’s wrapped up McPlant U.S. testing in summer 2022 and never took it nationwide, the AP report stated.
European customers have warmed to McDonald’s plant-based meat more than Americans have. Customer preferences will drive availability of the McPlant Nuggets and burger elsewhere, according to statements from McDonald’s.
Plant-Based Fast-Food Gains Popularity
McDonald’s McPlant Nuggets and McPlant Burgers reflect the ongoing trend of consumers’ desires to eat more plant-based foods. Beyond Meat has helped to pioneer many options for veggie-focused diners. It started offering plant-based “chicken” in U.S. supermarkets in 2021. In addition to its McDonald’s projects, Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC and Panda Express to develop plant-based nuggets and tenders.
Chick-fil-A has made its own splash in the plant-based “meat” arena. The franchise independently developed a sandwich with a patty of marinated cauliflower. The Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich is currently being tested in three areas: Charleston, S.C.; the Greensboro triad region of North Carolina; and Denver.
Other Fast-Food Restaurant Experiments
Experiments and evolution help restaurants maintain engagement with customers, by appealing to humans’ tendency to reach for the shiny new object and go after that next big thing. It’s a matter of changing with the times or possibly go the way of camera film, typewriters, VCRs and buggy whips. McDonald’s has more than held its own in innovation and tinkering, but the hugely successful fast-food giant has experienced some flops.
Ray Kroc, the legendary franchise owner who died in 1984, even had his failures – among them the pineapple-patty Hula Burger with which he hoped to woo Catholic diners on their meatless Fridays. Other McDuds include the McHotDog and pasta offerings such as fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna. (Of course, successful segues from the mainstay Big Mac – Chicken McNuggets and the Filet-O-Fish sandwich – are big wins for the Golden Arches.)
Last year, the company made headlines with a new restaurant concept in which there’s zero face-to-face human interaction. Out-of-sight humans cook the food, but it’s ordered via machine and delivered by conveyor belt. The small-footprint Texas store, owned by a franchisee, has received mixed reviews, with many customers adopting a wait-and-see attitude.
Cover Photo: McDonald’s