McDonald's P.L.T. Is No Impossible Whopper

McDonald's decided to dip its toe into the plant-based meat market last month with the Beyond-based P.L.T. (Plant, Lettuce, Tomato) by testing it in 28 locations in southwest Ontario. Now, a third of the way through the 12-week testing period, MarketWatch reports that the P.L.T. is not the rousing success that McDonald's and Beyond hoped for. Beyond stock plummeted 22.2% in yesterday's trading, and it's unclear whether McDonald's will adopt the P.L.T. permanently after the trial period is over.

"Based on our channel checks with select McDonald's based in Ontario, Canada that are currently testing the Beyond P.L.T. burger, the initial feedback has been largely positive, although it seems that the trial has not been a blowout success thus far that justifies an immediate nationwide rollout across both Canada and the U.S.," analysts from Bernstein Research wrote in a report.

MarketWatch notes that Tim Horton's also did a trial run with Beyond Meat and chose not to put the items on its permanent menu. Beyond executives, however, remain optimistic. "While we recognize short-term reactions to these milestones are often marked by heightened uncertainty, we believe that Beyond Meat is in a stronger position today than at any other time in its history," Seth Goldman, Beyond's executive chair, said in an earnings call.

Why are Canadians not embracing the P.L.T. when rival Burger King's Impossible Whopper has done so well? (Burger King reports that the quarter following the Impossible Whopper's national rollout was its best in four years.) Is it because it's immediately clear from the name what an Impossible Whopper is? Does the name P.L.T. bring back sad memories of the 1980s McDLT whose only distinguishing feature was the special packaging that separated the warm and cold elements of the sandwich? In an analysis shortly after the P.L.T.'s debut, financial site The Motley Fool pointed out that the P.L.T. is not fully vegan (it has cheese), not actually healthy, and costs more than the Big Mac. Micheline Maynard—a Takeout contributor drove to Canada to try one and reported for Forbes that there was very little signage and no one seemed very excited about it. Would a P.L.T. by any other name taste salty-sweeter?