McDonald’s latest burger may not be selling as well as expected among the general public, but the chain’s new creation has won over some unexpected allies.
Thanks to the plant-based burger McPlant, long-time adversaries McDonald’s and PETA finally found some common ground. The burger, which is currently being tested at 600 restaurants, has turned out to be the peace treaty between the animal advocacy group and the mega-chain known for feeding customers more than a billion pounds of beef per year.
In fact, PETA’s fervent approval of the McPlant has actually boosted sales of the burger at certain locations, according to a report from Bloomberg. The nonprofit group bought as many as 10,000 McPlant burgers during a 10-day giveaway in March, in order to help McDonald’s promote the beef burger alternative. Thanks to the group’s efforts, some operators in Texas and California saw a major spike in sales of the McPlant.
Joey Blanton, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Fort Worth, Texas, told Bloomberg that PETA’s orders—McPlants, hold the cheese and mayo—have helped his bottom line. “We saw an uptick in sales after that. PETA bought basically a bulk purchase for them to give away, that alone helped our numbers on the units sold per week.”
The animal-rights group echoed the sentiment on its website, saying: “PETA’s days of protesting outside McDonald’s locations may soon be over.”
For the group, which once referred to McDonald’s as “McCruelty,” the pivot has been a big one. Prior to that, they had spent decades protesting the fast-food chain, resulting in more than 400 demonstrations urging the company to change the requirements for its meat sellers.
McDonald’s McPlant was co-developed with Beyond Meat, which has been praised for its likeness to actual meat. Before McDonald’s, many fast-food chains adopted plant-based meat substitutes and found success, including Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and White Castle.
While PETA’s promotional efforts may be helping the numbers temporarily, it appears the McPlant isn’t a big hit just yet. A recent report suggested the meat-free burger isn’t meeting sales expectations in its test markets. In fact, of the 40 to 60 McPlants McDonald’s thought it would sell per day per location, it is only averaging about 20.
While McDonald’s appears to have entered a temporary truce with PETA, it isn’t out of the woods when it comes to animal rights. Legendary investor Carl Icahn recently took steps toward expanding his campaign to end pig gestation crates by targeting McDonald’s. The billionaire bought over 200 shares in the fast-food chain in hopes of shepherding it toward regulation.