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McDonald's joins Beyond Meat bandwagon with Canada tests

McDonald's joins Beyond Meat bandwagon with Canada tests
FILE PHOTO: The logo of a McDonald's Corp <MCD.N> restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo -
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Lucy Nicholson(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N> will test a new “plant, lettuce and tomato” sandwich using Beyond Meat’s <BYND.O> patties in some restaurants in Canada next week, following major rivals’ bets on the growing popularity of plant-based alternative meat.

The world’s largest burger chain joins Tim Hortons, KFC and Dunkin’ Brands in moving ahead with versions of a plant-based addition to their menus using Beyond Meat’s patties.

Shares of Beyond Meat, which have roughly tripled in value since the company’s listing on the stock market in May, surged 17% in early trading, while those of McDonald’s were up marginally.

The new PLT sandwich, which the company said was without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, will be priced at C$6.49 plus tax and will be sold in 28 restaurants in southwestern Ontario, Canada from Monday.

Beyond Meat, one of the pioneers of plant-based meat substitutes, is competing fiercely with Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods for dominance of the plant-based meat market, which Barclays analysts say is expected to explode, growing to an estimated $140 billion over the next 10 years.

McDonald’s already sells vegan burgers in some European countries. It joined hands with Nestle to launch the “Big Vegan TS” plant-based burger in Germany and “The Big Vegan” burger in Israel. It also offers the “McVegan” burger in Sweden.

“A lot of people have been asking McDonald’s if they are going to do this. I do think to offer the consumer another option is nice, but again, it remains to be seen on what the uptake is,” said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with Edward Jones.

Yarbrough pointed to Tim Horton’s, owned by Canada’s Restaurant Brands International <QSR.TO, which recently pulled back its own Beyond Meat plant-based burger offering this month, citing the better demand for real beef burgers.

McDonald’s said the 12-week test would allow it learn more about real-world implications of serving the PLT, including customer demand and impact on restaurant operations.

Separately, Nestle on Thursday launched its “Awesome” vegan burger patties in the United States. The company already sells vegan burgers in several European countries under the Garden Gourmet brand.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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