EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Beyond Meat, Inc. has entered strategic partnerships with McDonald’s Corp., Chicago, and Yum! Brands, Inc., Louisville, Ky., two of the largest fast-food companies. The agreements will make Beyond Meat a partner with both companies to co-develop plant-based menu items.
The McDonald’s agreement goes a step further and names Beyond Meat as McDonald’s “preferred supplier” for the patty in the McPlant sandwich, a plant-based item currently in test markets.
The partnership with Yum! Brands is an expansion of the companies’ earlier collaborations. KFC was the first national US quick-service restaurant to introduce plant-based chicken when it tested Beyond Fried Chicken at an Atlanta-area restaurant in 2019, according to Beyond Meat. Since the initial rollout, KFC has expanded testing of Beyond Fried Chicken in other US cities. In 2020, Pizza Hut US launched the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza and the Great Beyond Pizza nationwide.
During a Feb. 25 conference call to discuss Beyond Meat’s fiscal 2020 earnings, Ethan Brown, president and chief executive officer, would not elaborate on what impact the agreements may have on the company.
“While we recognize you undoubtedly have immediate questions, including with regard to the potential implications of our partnerships with McDonald's and Yum! Brands, we are not prepared to elaborate at this time,” he said. “I want to emphasize that due to the likely phasing of these notable partnerships, any activity is likely to skew toward the latter part of this year and therefore, from a modeling perspective, the potential impact to Beyond Meat in 2021 is likely to be fairly modest.”
The agreements also are not exclusive. McDonald’s is looking at plant-based varieties of poultry, pork and egg with other companies, but Mr. Brown said Beyond Meat also is looking at those formats as well.
Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, a Washington-based group that advocates for the development of plant-based meat alternatives, said the agreements demonstrates the long-term potential of alternative meats.
“With more restaurants and revenue than any other food chains on the planet, McDonald’s and Yum! Brands will bring plant-based meat onto the mainstream menus of millions of people,” he said. “When these restaurant chains move, the entire food industry takes notice. These agreements will reverberate throughout the global supply chain and send a strong signal for the future of plant-based meat in restaurants.
“Progress happens when the more sustainable choice is the default choice. This agreement between Beyond Meat, McDonald’s, and Yum! Brands gets plant-based meats a giant step closer to becoming standard fare and the default choice.”