10 Plant-Based Insights on North American Restaurant Menus


McDonald’s ends plant-based items

When McDonald’s announced it was introducing a plant-based burger to its menu, the foodservice and restaurant industries paid close attention. A number of big QSR chains, from A&W to KFC, have made similar moves in recent years, but the announcement from McDonald’s, the godfather of “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”, generated particular interest. Analysts and industry insiders watched and waited to see what would happen.

The burger was launched in the U.S. in 2020 as McPlant, and in Canada as the P.L.T. (Plant. Lettuce. Tomato.). It was made with Beyond Meat.

The P.L.T. test in Canada ended after six months, with no plans to add it permanently to the menu. Now, McPlant’s test run has ended in the U.S., again with no apparent plans to continue it.

So what’s the state of the plant-based nation?

While some research suggests that interest in veganism is waning slightly, other numbers indicate the plant-based trend is growing at a healthy rate. Research from Aaron Allen, for example, finds that from 2018 to 2021, the U.S. plant-based food market grew at a 16% CAGR. As the analyst points out, that’s more than twice the growth of foodservice (6% CAGR) and more than four times the growth of coffee (3% CAGR). Similarly, in the grocery sector, the Good Food Institute reported that according to April 2021 data, sales of plant-based foods that directly replaced animal products had jumped 27% in one year, reaching $7 billion.

Dipping into Brizo FoodMetric’s market insights

We decided to dig into plant-based eating on Brizo FoodMetrics, using our highly granular filters to get the lay of the land. We started by entering the keywords “plant based” in the search tool, then drilled down from there using additional filters like dietary style, median price, and online reviews. Here’s what we found:

  1. 51,636 foodservice establishments across the U.S. and Canada have “plant based” items on their menus.
  2. Over 36,805 of those are chains — including market leaders like Burger King, KFC, and Chipotle — and almost 15,000 are independents.
  3. Just over 50% (28K) / About a third (+33K) of these operators also offer vegan or vegetarian dishes.
  4. 13,876 locations offer Beyond Meat on their menus and 253 of them are unique chains.
  5. The largest concentration of establishments with “plant based” items is in New York/Newark — in Canada, Toronto is #1, and 4th on the list overall.
  6. The largest concentration of establishments serving Beyond Meat products is in Toronto, Ontario.
  7. Over 44,000 of those establishments with plant-based items have online review scores of 3.5 or higher, and 21,896 have 1,000 or more reviews.
  8. Just over 17,000 of them have an average menu price point of $15 or less.
  9. Burger King is 2nd in this grouping, behind Chipotle (#1) and Panera Bread (#3). McDonald’s is not on the list as expected.
  10. There are over 23,348 unique contacts in this grouping (in case you’re wondering).

So while the number of foodservice establishments that offer plant based is about 5% of the foodservice market, there’s no doubt that plant-based items continue to have a strong growing presence on menus across North America.

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