Why exactly are all these American fast food companies running new dishes through Canada first?
We get it: America likes to be the first to get everything. America was the first to the moon, the first to get tiny computers you can put in your pants and call it a phone, and the first to get mail-order mattresses delivered to your door.
But when it comes to fast food, America is typically in second place right behind their neighbor to the north: Canada. McDonald’s announced just last week that they’d start selling their new Beyond Meat burger in Southern Ontario at 28 select restaurants to see how they do. Called the PLT (for Plant, Lettuce, Tomato), it sells for $6.49 and features no meat (although it does feature cheese and is cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, so it’s not vegan).
So what gives? Why does Canada get first crack at new stuff and America has to wait. Well, there are two big reasons, which we can thank Forbes for providing the answers.
The first is population. Canada has roughly 37 million people, or about 1/9th the population of the US. If a new dish goes poorly, fewer people will know about it and therefore it’ll make less of a stink.
But it’s also about where those people are located. Most of Canada lives in Ontario (about 14 million) and most of those live less than an hour away from the US border. Since Canada is close, they still have a fairly American palate, so something that does well in Canada should do well in America.
Say hello to the new P.L.T. from @mcdonaldscanada - a juicy, plant-based burger made with a Beyond Meat patty! The P.L.T. will be tested for 12 weeks in 28 McDonald’s restaurants in Southwestern Ontario, Canada starting 9/30. Learn more here ➡️ https://t.co/NiqjT4GX7A pic.twitter.com/h9MZ3xrVvI— Beyond Meat (@BeyondMeat) September 26, 2019
Canadians are also a little more adventurous than Americans. Canada has a lot of immigrants and they tend to bring their food with them, so Canadians are used to trying new things. This means a new dish from McDonald’s is something they’re willing to try a bit more than Americans otherwise would.
Beyond Meat is already sold in Canadian A&W and Tim Horton’s locations where it’s doing fairly well, so selling essentially the same product at McDonald’s is probably a safe bet.