Ever since McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) said it was launching the McPlant, its own plant-based beef alternative sandwich, Beyond Meat's (NASDAQ:BYND) role in the process has been questioned. Now an analyst says it may at best be as one of several suppliers.

Yes, no, maybe

Because McDonald's original announcement didn't mention the faux-meat maker, despite having previously tested its burgers in Canada, it was assumed Beyond Meat wouldn't be part of the new product rollout. But after Beyond Meat revealed it actually helped McDonald's develop the McPlant, it was believed the company would have a more prominent role.

Boy taking a big bite out of a cheeseburger

Image source: Getty Images.

However, after speaking with a McDonald's supply chain executive, a UBS analyst now says there are very few products the fast food chain offers that have a sole supplier relationship and that a particular brand's identity with any product is rare. Coca-Cola may be the only exception.

If there are two or three suppliers involved in the making of the McPlant, it suggests any financial benefit Beyond Meat receives from participating will be lower than previously thought.

Front and center

Still, a case can be made for Beyond Meat being the sole supplier. Beyond meat president and CEO Ethan Brown told analysts during his third-quarter earnings conference call earlier this month that while he didn't want to speak for McDonald's, he believes the Beyond Meat brand should be identified on the menu board because it is "in everybody's best interest to use our brand, and I would resist efforts to not use it."

That suggests a primary role in the McPlant's production, though other analysts still find it "extremely strange that neither management team is willing to confirm a relationship or intent to work together."

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.