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    McDonald’s Germany debuts vegan burger amid increased calls for meat-free protein

    Source: Food Ingredients 1st

    McDonald’s Germany is today launching a vegan burger for the first time, made with Nestlé’s plant-based Incredible Burger made from soy and wheat proteins. In its recent credibility campaign “Believe it or not,” McDonald’s Germany seeks to showcase how it is working to improve its meat-free offerings as debates around on sustainability and animal welfare continue to rise. According to McDonald’s, The Big Vegan TS is a “meatless alternative with the real McDonald's taste.”

    This is McDonald’s Germany's first foray into offering a plant-based protein option. It previously only offered a vegetarian burger made from quinoa. The restaurant branch is also creating a vegan chicken burger in its Munich test kitchen, according to reports.

    The announcement from McDonald’s Germany comes just a few weeks after Burger King revealed that it is trialing Impossible Foods’ meatless patties in restaurants in St. Louis, US. As the race to feed the world’s growing population speeds up, companies are exploring alternative food options. By 2050, the global population is predicted to reach 9.8 billion and affordable and sustainable nutrition is set to become much more essential alongside the inclusion of plant proteins. 

    Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are developing vegetarian and vegan burgers primarily based on pea-protein, as well as other ingredients, and fast food chains are quickly expanding their menus to reflect this growing need. Carl’s Jr. was one of the first major chains to add the Beyond Burger to its menu in January of this year. 

    Consumers are more conscious than ever about making responsible food choices that are not only healthy, but that also take sustainability and ethical considerations into account.

    According to data from Innova Market Insights, there has been a 45 percent average annual growth of food and beverage launches with a vegan positioning (CAGR, 2013-2017). New launches with a vegan positioning increased market penetration in Europe from 1.5 percent in 2013, to 7 percent in 2017.

    “Markets decide what’s best for their customers and the launch of The Big Vegan TS in Germany is the latest example of that,” a McDonald’s spokesperson tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “Other recent examples of local innovation include the UK & Ireland who launched a new vegetarian wrap and its first vegetarian Happy Meal product in February and Scandinavia who last month introduced Vegetarian McNuggets.”

    “With the Big Vegan TS we offer a product that is not only interesting for strictly vegan people but focuses on the so-called flexitarians, people who enjoy an alternative to classical meat products now and then,” the spokesperson adds. “Next to the new Big Vegan TS, McDonald‘s Germany already offers several products suitable for vegans, e.g. fries, fried apple pie, apple slices in the Happy Meal as well as the Snack Salad classic.”

    In Germany, only 1 percent of the society prefers a strictly vegan diet, according to the spokesperson. “For McDonald’s Germany, it is important that everybody, no matter if vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or meat lover, finds something that suits their lifestyle and needs in our restaurants.”

    The call for meatless protein sources is getting louder and louder, according to Philipp Wachholz, company spokesman for McDonald's Germany. “Improving for us means that we are brave enough to try new methods,” says Wachholz. 

    “Although the proportion of vegans in Germany is still relatively low, with The Big Vegan TS, we are specifically targeting the far-reaching trend of reducing animal product consumption. This gives us more choice and we are convinced that our new vegan burger will meet the taste of all McDonald’s lovers,” he notes. 

    The Big Vegan TS is entirely free of animal ingredients and has the familiar taste that consumers “know and love.” It is now also available as standard in the McMenu and can be combined in addition to, for example, French fries or a salad as a side dish to a vegan menu.

    The patty is served in a classic sesame bun and garnished with Lollo Bionda salad, tomato, salt cucumber and red onions. Ketchup and mustard sauce complete the vegan taste experience, says the fast food giant. 

    Other locations where McDonald’s offers vegan items include the UK and Norway, with plans to roll out vegan options in Australia later this year.

    The Big Vegan TS will be available in all participating restaurants from April 29. In restaurants with limited product range, it will be offered in a smaller version. Both variants replace the Veggieburger TS from the standard McDonald’s menu assortment.

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