- Dunkin's U.S. same-store sales rose 2.8% during its fourth quarter, according to an earnings call Thursday. This marks the highest level in six years.
- The brand attributes the spike to its plant-based Beyond Sausage Sandwich, which it put on menus in November, as well as its espresso and cold brew sales.
- Overall traffic declined during the fourth quarter, but according to Restaurant Business, the breakfast sandwich boosted the average check to more than $9.
Dunkin's decision to push its Beyond Meat products appears to have paid off so far, as the brand was able to offset overall traffic by luring in new consumers and drawing in bigger checks. The brand launched the sandwich in November with considerable fanfare, even bringing in Snoop Dogg for a TV spot and recently launching a line of merchandise to promote the plant-based offering.
But in the battle of the plant-based QSR offerings, Dunkin' is not unique. In October 2019, Burger King reported a 5% boost in sales thanks to the Impossible Whopper and began offering a breakfast sandwich last month. McDonald's has been testing plant-based burgers in its international divisions, and Tim Horton's had piloted a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich. The latter, however, removed the offering at the end of January, raising questions about whether plant-based eating is a fleeting curiosity or whether the segment can support long-term growth in the QSR space.
As the plant-based segment continues to mature, larger QSRs are starting to make moves after staying mostly on the sidelines. Starbucks recently announced that it plans to add plant-based items to its menu, but has not indicated whether it plans to use Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods or another source. Given the scale of the global chain, sourcing demands are serious. McDonald’s has remained brand agnostic when dabbling with plant-based menu offerings for this reason and Starbucks may follow suit.
In addition to its Beyond offering, espresso and cold brew sales were highlight for Dunkin'. It was a strong driver of increased traffic. It may have also benefited from Dunkin's emphasis on creative marketing strategies much like its Snoop Dogg spots for Beyond Meat. Dunkin' launched an online pop-up shop during the holidays and turned menu items into limited-edition scented candles, for example. There may be more marketing pushes to come as the company recently named a new VP of marketing strategy.