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McDonald's Pulls the Plug on Plant-Based Burgers and Says a Popular Sandwich Will Return The fast-food giant is ending its plant-based experiment due to poor sales, while another cult favorite sandwich will return later this year.

By Carl Stoffers Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • McDonald's is discontinuing its meatless McPlant burger.
  • The brand is bringing back the popular McRib sandwich later this year.
  • McDonald's sees a significant trend in protein consumption favoring chicken, leading to increased investments in its chicken offerings.

McDonald's is ending its plant-based experiment due to lagging sales. At the same time, it's promoting the eventual return of the popular McRib sandwich and focusing on its growing chicken segment.

In 2021, McDonald's partnered with plant-based food producer Beyond Meat to create the McPlant, a plant-based meat alternative burger patty made from ingredients such as potatoes, peas and rice.

"I asked the team to test the McPlant in two very different markets, and so they chose San Francisco and Dallas," Joe Erlinger, McDonald's USA president, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month. "It was not successful in either market, so I don't think the U.S. consumer is coming to McDonald's or looking for McPlant or other plant-based proteins from McDonald's."

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McRib's Return

As McDonald's drops its plant-based burger, it will also bring back a cult favorite — the McRib sandwich.

"It's coming later this year," Erlinger told Today when asked about the McRib, "it will be back."

Since its debut in the early 1980s, the McRib has returned sporadically as a seasonal offering. McDonald's has discontinued the McRib several times — even launching a McRib Farewell Tour in 2022 — but has never permanently removed the fan favorite from its menu. The sandwich has a passionate fan base — you can even use the McRib Locator to find McDonald's selling the McRib worldwide.

McChicken: As big as burgers

McDonald's recently said it makes as much money from chicken products — such as McNuggets and McCrispy sandwiches — as beef burgers, representing about $25 billion in annual sales.

"Obviously," Erlinger told the WSJ, "the bigger trend around protein consumption is really around chicken, and we think we're poised to serve that trend well, and that's where we're making investments."

Carl Stoffers

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Business Editor

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