NEW YORK (AFP) - Fast food giant McDonald's on Monday (Nov 9) announced it was launching a new plant-based burger named the "McPlant" to cater to the growing number of people who do not eat meat.
The group had already tested out a plant-based burger in cooperation with the company Beyond Meat, which specialises in vegan meat substitutes.
The new line will be produced exclusively for McDonald's, and will be introduced in selected markets next year.
The restaurant chain has not yet said if it will renew its collaboration with Beyond Meat, only saying it will reach out to third-party suppliers as with all its other products.
McDonald's told investors it was also considering plant-based substitutes for chicken products and for its egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches.
The brand had fallen behind in the niche market to rival Burger King, which was the first to launch a vegetarian version of its iconic "Whopper" burger in April 2019 in the United States.
McDonald's still relies on its flagship products like the "Big Mac", "McNuggets" and French fries, which account for around 70 percent of its sales in its main markets.
"As demand for the familiar in these uncertain times is more important than ever, the Company believes these core classics will continue to be significant drivers of growth thanks to both their popularity and profitability," McDonalds said in a statement.
The company also aims to put a new emphasis on chicken-based products, which are growing faster than the market for beef products.
Following the success of its spicy nuggets in the United States, McDonald's plans to launch a crispy chicken sandwich there in 2021.
To boost internet sales, which have already grown significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the group will also test a new online platform and a new loyalty programme.
It will also build new drive-in only outlets and have lines dedicated to customers who pre-ordered their meals online.