This Tokyo startup is making America’s vegan McRib dreams come true
Vegan McRib sandwiches might not be on the McDonald’s menu anytime soon, but Japanese startup Next Meat Co. has the next best thing for Americans. On June 19, Tokyo-based Next Meat Co., in cooperation with the fast food chain Wayback Burgers, is offering free samples of two vegan sliders made from Yakiniku Short Ribs – the startup’s tender vegan barbecue short ribs – at the Sacramento Vegan Food Festival. at . The Pioneer slider is topped with cucumber and ketchup, while The East Meets West slider has kimchi and ponzu cucumbers.
The one-day giveaway is intended to gather feedback from festival visitors on the vegan barbecue short ribs and the East-meets-West cooperation with Wayback Burgers, which is to open a new location in Sacramento. “[We are] I’m delighted that people are trying this innovative meatless creation between a long-established American restaurant brand and a food tech company from the other end of the world, ”said Ryo Shirai, CEO of Next Meats Holdings.
The temporary collaboration between Next Meats and Wayback Burgers takes place before the official start of the Japanese startup in the USA. On June 23, Next Meats will open its e-commerce retail store in the Los Angeles area, where customers can purchase its vegan yakiniku short ribs to make their own versions of the McRib. Next Meats plans to launch its products in US supermarkets as well.
Vegan short ribs are going global
Founded in 2020, Next Meats aims to raise awareness of the harmful effects of animal husbandry and provide alternatives to popular Japanese cuts of meat such as: kalbi (Barbecue Short Ribs) and harami (Rock steak). Domestically, the startup’s products – which are made on the basis of GMO-free soy – are sold at selected locations of the Japanese superstore Ito Yokado and its vegan meat can also be found on the menu at Yakiniku Like, a grill restaurant with locations all over Japan.
Next Meats has only been in operation for a year and its products are already available in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore and are currently planning to expand sales to six other countries, including the United States.
Vegan at McDonald’s
A vegan McRib sandwich at McDonald’s is just a pipe dream for the time being. The fast food giant announced last year that it has entered into a three-year strategic partnership with vegan brand Beyond Meat to work on its McPlant platform, which will lead to the launch of various new menu items worldwide – like burgers on plant-based Base, chicken substitutes, and plant-based breakfast sandwiches.
In February, McDonald’s tested the first product from this platform: the McPlant Burger with a plant-based patty developed exclusively for McDonald’s made from pea and rice protein and topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, mustard, ketchup, egg -mayonnaise and milk-based cheese . The trial took place at selected locations in Sweden and Denmark with the aim of introducing the meatless McPlant Burger to locations in other markets.
US customers still need to be given an essential plant-based option, largely because the giant chain is slower than its competitors to adapt to current trends. In a recent interview with capital, Former McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski revealed that the plant-based trend is a long-term strategy the chain is investing in and that the menu changes would take time to implement.
Kempczinski was referring to an opinion from McDonald’s founder Ray Croc, who once said he didn’t know what the chain was going to sell in five or ten years but he was sure that McDonald’s would sell most of it, Kempczinski said: One a bit of my attitude when it comes to vegetable or chicken or beef, that is, we follow the customer. Wherever the customer wants to go, we will continue to develop our menu to meet these needs. “