Elysha Young
Elysha manages the Asia Pacific Mintel Trends team made up of expert analysts and trend spotters. She currently oversees content for Mintel Trends as well as client servicing for the region.

With vegetarianism, flexitarianism and veganism more popular in Australia today than ever before, Macca’s (McDonald’s) announced the return of its McVeggie burger—albeit through a trial. The McVeggie burger was removed from the fast food giant’s menu back in 2011 simply due to a lack of demand. In fact, Macca’s Australia menu only has french fries and hashbrowns as vegan options and no burger options for vegetarians.

Source: McDonald’s

Macca’s has also confirmed that the relaunched McVeggie is an all-new burger that comes with a crumb-coated patty made of a mixed vegetable blend of 100% Australian potatoes, peas, corn, carrots and onions.

The first stage of the trail will see the new McVeggie introduced to Macca’s across South Australia. Unlike back in 2011, the fast-food giant will wait on feedback before introducing the burger to the rest of the country.

The relaunch of the McVeggie comes at a time when Australians are more receptive to such diets, given how health-conscious they’ve become. Mintel research reveals that more than a fifth of urban Australians plan to reduce their meat intake, while 14% want to follow a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet. In addition, over a quarter of urban Australians who are eating more non-animal sources of protein are doing so because they have become either a vegetarian or vegan.

The popularity of vegan burger brands like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat has shown that there is a real market opportunity in catering to vegetarians and vegans. That said, it is important that brands understand it won’t be enough to have just one vegetarian alternative on the menu—meat-free consumers still want variety and taste, and with increasing options available they will move on quickly if they find that the McVeggie is merely a token effort.

Brands should also have at least one vegan option available, which will mean developing a sauce, bun, and cheese that are more than just palatable. It is worth looking at the existing menu and identifying what is already vegan, or what could easily be made vegan, and communicating those accordingly.

Meanwhile, some of Australia’s most popular ice creams, including Magnum, Cornetto, Weis Bars and Ben & Jerry’s, have recently released vegan variants as demand continues to grow.

While the reasons for this trend are diverse, including concern about cruelty, sustainability, and the environment, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. With all these international brands on the veggie and vegan bandwagon, this movement has hit the mainstream in Australia in a big way.