McDonald's is a powerhouse at developing iconic things, but it's not an innovator. Last year, it tested a novel burger but has since pulled it.
McDonald's reported this week that its U.S. test of the McPlant burger has ended as planned, and there are no signs of more testing or a wider deployment.
Early tests in 2021 were successful enough to warrant an expanded test at 600 outlets this year, but the plant-based burger didn't sell well enough to stay on the menu.
Low sales of the McPlant in California and Texas are the main reason McDonald's is dropping the burger, analysts say.
J.P. Morgan's Ken Goldman believes McDonald's has ended its US McPlant burger test. "MCD personnel at 25 sites that formerly stocked the product told us it's no longer available. Unsurprisingly, the product didn't sell well."
Those in the know aren't surprised. Since the beginning of the year, rumours have lingered about the McPlant's reception in the U.S. BTIG analysts Peter Saleh and Ben Parente remarked in March that the burger wasn't selling well.
Urban cities like Dallas and San Francisco sold 20 McPlants a day, whereas rural and suburban areas sold 3 to 5 burgers a day. Even 20 burgers a day was well below the chain's goal of 40 to 60.
The McPlant was made to order, which could have slowed operations at McDonald's, where speed and efficiency are crucial.
McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski termed the chain's menu Darwinian in a New York Times interview last year.
Whatever the buyer wants, I sell it "saying "If customers buy enough plant-based, I could turn my entire menu vegan. We'll sell burgers if they want.