All Tomorrow’s Kitchens, a weekly series from Future Human, rounds up advances in food and agricultural science, tech, business, and culture bringing all humans closer to a food-secure future.
It’s the fast food of the future, and they called it the McPlant
This week’s biggest story about the future of food is that McDonald’s is developing a plant-based line of product called, to the internet’s glee, the McPlant. The fast-food behemoth will start testing its meat-free burger next year, and a plant-based chicken substitute could follow, CNBC reported Monday. There is some confusion about who’s actually supplying the burgers: McDonald’s international president Ian Borden said the McPlant was created “by McDonald’s and for McDonald’s,” but plant-based meat giant Beyond Meat says it co-created the patty.
Plant-based products at fast-food restaurants aren’t that new — Burger King has the Impossible Whopper, for example, and McDonald’s itself briefly tested the P.L.T. in Canada last year — but McDonald’s entry into this space is significant because it’s the largest restaurant chain by sales in the United States. The demand could be huge: Burger King, for example, saw a 10% increase in sales after it debuted the Impossible Whopper, and McDonald’s is a far bigger company. If demand remains high, the question will be whether McDonald’s supplier will be able to keep up with that demand and, if so, how. (Last year, Impossible Foods bowed out of the competition to supply McDonald’s with a plant-based burger citing limitations on production.) Another and perhaps more urgent question is: McPlant???
“Molecular farming” could help alt meats scale up
Touted as a more sustainable way to get our meat fix, lab-grown meat — lumps of animal cells grown in a lab instead of in a farm animal — is currently too costly to scale up for general consumption. An emerging alternative to harvesting animal cells is to grow them in plants. A…