Plant-based burgers seemed like the way to future-proof the fast food industry, but less than a year later it appears there’s no market for it in America.
With a few exceptions, such as Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, most plant-based fast food products in the United States are not firmly established on restaurant menus.
For example, KFC briefly sold plant-based nuggets, Chipotle added a vegan chorizo option, and Taco Bell tested several plant-based meat substitutes. But now the vegetarian options have disappeared in all three restaurants.
In early 2022, McDonald’s contributed to the vegetable pie and announced that it will sell McPlant in 600 locations in the United States. But six months later, the burger was once again removed from the menu.
The reason? The burger wasn’t selling well enough, especially in low-income areas and rural areas, where some restaurants were selling three to five McPlants a day.
Plant-based burgers from McDonald’s and Burger King Enthusiastically received in Europe, they’ll have a hard time landing in the U.S., Edward Jones Investments’ Brian Yarbrough told Business Insider. “It’s really hard to convert meat eaters to plant-based options here.”
Part of the reluctance can be explained by higher prices for plant-based options. For example, Starbucks’ Impossible Breakfast sandwich, made with Impossible Foods’ plant-based sausage, costs 35 percent more than the real sausage version.
American consumers are increasingly skeptical of health claims surrounding plant-based meats. outside A study by Deloitte By 2022, U.S. consumers are less likely to believe that plant-based meats are healthier than real meat and less likely to pay higher prices.
“Consumers are put off by long lists of ingredients with vague health benefits. With real meat, people know what to expect,” says Yarbrough.
Plant-based meats won’t disappear from American fast food menus, but they certainly won’t replace real burgers just yet. It’s “a great product for a small subset”. Yarbrough says. “But it’s a tough option to sell to the majority of consumers.”
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