McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) will finally offer a plant-based burger next year, but rather than go with one of the established leaders such as Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) or Impossible Foods, the fast-food giant is developing its own. 

The restaurant chain revealed the development during its third-quarter earnings conference call, with USA Today reporting the beef patty alternative will launch next year in several test markets around the globe.

Man taking big bite of a burger

Image source: Getty Images.

Planting seeds of change

Called the McPlant, it could be the first of many plant-based meat alternatives that appear on McDonald's menu, as McDonald's international president Ian Borden told investors Monday, "In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products including burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches."

McDonald's also revealed it will have a response to the crispy chicken sandwich from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen that has been a cultural phenomenon, driving sales of the Restaurant Brands International chain skyward. Even before the pandemic, consumers would line up around the block to buy one.

The chicken sandwich has been under development for over a year as franchisees clamored for the burger joint to come out with its own version to help ride the wave.

News of the McPlant, though, sent shares of Beyond Meat falling. The faux-meat maker had a relationship with McDonald's during tests for plant-based burgers, and last month it was rumored they would partner again for sales in certain overseas markets.

Those hopes seem to be dashed after Borden was quoted as saying, "McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald's, by McDonald's."

Its name may not sound like something you'd want to sink your teeth into, but the McPlant means McDonald's is finally putting down roots in the alternative protein space.

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