top of page

Insight of the Day: Do US fast-food customers want plant-based meat? Panda Express thinks so

Summary: The demand for plant-based options at fast-food restaurants in the U.S. remains unclear, as indicated by recent contrasting moves by Panda Express and McDonald's. While Panda Express is reintroducing its plant-based Beyond Orange Chicken due to popular demand, McDonald's has discontinued its McPlant burger in the U.S. due to lackluster sales.

Key Takeaway: The success of plant-based options at fast-food restaurants in the U.S. may depend on factors such as regional preferences, menu integration, and marketing strategies. While there is a vocal segment of consumers seeking plant-based alternatives, mainstream adoption remains a challenge.

Consumer Motivation:

  • Health and Sustainability: Consumers are increasingly motivated by health concerns and environmental sustainability, driving interest in plant-based alternatives.

  • Taste and Variety: Some consumers are simply looking for new and interesting menu options, regardless of their dietary preferences.

  • Ethical Considerations: A growing number of consumers are choosing plant-based options due to ethical concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat production.

Driving the Trend:

  • Growing awareness of plant-based diets: Increased media attention and celebrity endorsements are raising awareness of the benefits of plant-based eating.

  • Improved taste and texture: Plant-based meat alternatives have significantly improved in taste and texture, making them more appealing to a wider range of consumers.

  • Environmental concerns: The environmental impact of meat production is a growing concern for many consumers, driving interest in more sustainable options.

Target Audience:

  • Flexitarians: Consumers who are reducing their meat consumption but not entirely eliminating it.

  • Vegetarians and Vegans: Individuals who follow plant-based diets for ethical, health, or environmental reasons.

  • Health-conscious consumers: People who are looking for healthier alternatives to traditional fast-food options.

Consumer Products/Services:

  • Plant-based meat alternatives: The article focuses on plant-based chicken and burgers offered by fast-food restaurants.


  • The demand for plant-based options at fast-food restaurants in the U.S. is still developing.

  • Success may depend on regional preferences, menu integration, and effective marketing strategies.

  • Companies like Panda Express are optimistic about the potential of plant-based options, while others like McDonald's are taking a more cautious approach.

Implications for Brands:

  • Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to understand consumer preferences and tailor plant-based offerings accordingly.

  • Menu Integration: Integrate plant-based options seamlessly into the menu, ensuring they are appealing and accessible to a wide range of consumers.

  • Marketing and Communication: Clearly communicate the benefits of plant-based options, highlighting their taste, health, and sustainability aspects.

Implications for Society:

  • Healthier Food Choices: Increased availability of plant-based options at fast-food restaurants could contribute to healthier eating habits and reduce the consumption of animal products.

  • Environmental Sustainability: The shift towards plant-based alternatives could potentially reduce the environmental impact of the food industry.

  • Changing Consumer Preferences: The growing demand for plant-based options reflects a broader shift in consumer preferences towards more sustainable and ethical food choices.


bottom of page