The landmark plant-based burger will make its debut in select Southwest Ontario locations.
McDonald’s PLT–a plant, lettuce, and tomato burger–will make its global debut in a handful of cities and towns in Southwestern Ontario.
The Beyond Meat plant-based sandwich, which also contains pickles, slivered onions, cheese, mustard, ketchup, “mayo-style sauce,” and a Quarter Pounder-sized bun will cost $6.49 plus tax and be available for 12 weeks in 28 stores around London, Ontario, beginning Sept. 30.
Plans for the launch have been shrouded in secrecy.
During an exclusive preview for The Financial Post at McDonald’s Canadian office in Toronto, the test kitchen—which operates as a functioning McDonald’s restaurant for the 363 staff at the Canadian office—was closed while Jeff Anderson, a senior manager in culinary innovation nicknamed Chef Jeff, cooked up samples of the new burger.
A diagram of the PLT, pinned to the test kitchen wall, was labeled “Project Dune Ops Test,” but was later removed by a staff member.
The PLT sandwich was developed at McDonald’s global headquarters in Chicago, with the Canadian operation only responsible for carrying out the test in the London, Ont., region.
According to The Financial Post, McDonald’s head office picked Southwestern Ontario because of its semblance to the average North American town—or in the words of one company spokesman, because it has “geographic and representative spreads that we can take and measure against other demographics.”
A&W Canada stirred up interest in plant-based products over a year ago after the launch of its own Beyond Meat sandwich—a major milestone for the Beyond Meat product, which had yet to launch with a major fast-food chain. Since then, the meat substitute industry has been thrown into the global spotlight, with the Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat’s impressive stock market debut and a series of product launches with large chains.
In recent months, the absence of a plant-based option on the McDonald’s menu was starting to draw criticism, especially as a slew of rivals—A&W, Burger King, even Tim Hortons—had experimented with versions of their own.
Michael Gonda, McDonald’s vice president of global communications, told the Financial Post that the menu team worked with the Beyond Meat team to develop the patty recipe, with seasoning that delivered a “very iconic taste.”
“That takes a tremendous amount of effort, to create something with specialness,” he said. “We’ve created something that’s exclusively by us and for us. And that takes a lot of time.”
The burger will be sold in London, Aylmer, Exeter, Ingersoll, Sarnia, St. Thomas, Strathroy, Tillsonburg and Woodstock. McDonald’s has said it doesn’t yet have plans for a wider rollout, as that will be dependent on the results of the test.