Starbucks, Wendy’s add plant-based sandwiches to their menus

Both chains have tapped the Canadian market for their first foray into the category.
Wendy's Plantiful Plant-Based Burger

Starbucks and Wendy’s have both announced new plant-based meat alternatives will come to their Canadian locations.

Next week, Starbucks coffee shops in Canada will begin stocking a breakfast sandwich made with egg, cheddar cheese and a Beyond Meat sausage patty. It delivers on promises Starbucks executives have made to add plant-based sandwiches to its food selection, with CEO Kevin Johnson saying it is an important part of its sustainability initiatives.

Beginning today, Wendy’s locations will stock The Plantiful burger, made from pea-based protein. The QSR began quietly testing The Plantiful burger at a small number of locations last fall, which could be seen with in-store ads bearing messages like “Where’s the beef? Not here.”

Unlike most other QSRs that have added plant-based meat alternatives to their menus, Wendy’s developed its plant-based burger in-house instead of partnering with companies like Beyond Meat or Lightlife.

“Plant-based product offerings have become an expectation of Canadian consumers… and the idea of offering the same product as other competitors was simply not an option for the Wendy’s Canada team,” says Lisa Deletroz, senior director of marketing for Wendy’s Canada.

Both companies are launching their plant-based sandwiches in Canada before any other market in which they operate. Though some QSRs have not been successful at tapping into wavering demand – Tim Hortons removed most Beyond Meat options from its menus, while sales for Burger King’s version of the Impossible Burger in the U.S. have begun to slide after the initial buzz – Canada has become a popular test market to see how plant-based meat alternatives might fare long-term on their menus.

In today’s announcement, Wendy’s specifically said that Plantiful is targeted at flexitarians and gives them a protein alternative – as it comes with mayonnaise and cheese – but noted that, like most of its menu items, it is made-to-order, allowing customers to exclude or add any ingredients they wish, including making it vegan-friendly. Starbucks’ sandwiches, however, are typically pre-packaged, and it is unclear if vegans that do not eat cheese or eggs will have an option to customize their Beyond Meat order.

Wendy’s has over 350 locations in Canada, while Starbucks operates over 1,400 coffee shops.