McDonald’s has started to use fresh beef in burgers sold at its US restaurants.
The fast-food chain is looking to improve food quality and ward off competition from premium burger chains.
Burgers containing fresh beef will be sold at most of McDonald’s 14,000 US restaurants by the end of June.
The move is part of bigger changes at McDonald’s, as new competitors, including burger chains such as Shake Shack, are using fresh ingredients to differentiate themselves.
As part of its turnaround efforts in recent years, McDonald’s has tweaked pricing and added to its menu. The fast-food chain has also ditched ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup in a bid to appeal to health-conscious customers.
McDonald’s has been testing the appetite for burgers made from fresh beef for about a year. The premium quarter pounder and other offerings are now available at about 3,500 McDonald’s restaurants in the US, including in Miami, Orlando and Nashville.
These products are sold alongside existing burgers made using frozen meat.
Next month, fresh beef burgers will become available at restaurants in Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco.
McDonald’s US president Chris Kempczinski said that offering fresh beef was the most significant change to the restaurant chain’s menu since it started offering all-day breakfast in 2015.
Chris Kempczinski said: “If it slows down the drive-through, that’s the critical part of our business. And so we just had to spend a lot of time really making sure that as we were cooking only when someone ordered, we’d figured out a way to do it that wasn’t going to slow down service time.”
McDonald’s is rolling out its newly simplified menu, which features fewer items in order to reduce confusion and boost speed.
According to an inside source the following would be removed nationally: the honey mustard Snack Wrap, chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap, bacon habanero ranch Quarter Pounder, bacon and cheese Quarter Pounder, premium chicken club sandwich and premium ranch BLT chicken sandwich.
The southern-style chicken sandwich will also be axed except in some markets. Additionally, local level operators can choose to remove the buffalo ranch McChicken or grilled onion cheddar burger from the menu.
Deeper cuts at McDonald’s could be on the way.
On the company’s conference call Friday, McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres said its menu rationalization test is “clearly ongoing,” as the chain has unveiled a lot of products during the last year and a half.
The cuts are aimed at simplifying a menu that’s grown complex over the years and proved to be an obstacle in the fast-food giant’s need for speed.
McDonald’s menu items excluding beverages, desserts or combo meals grew to 72 last year from 53 just four years earlier, according to market research firm Datassential.
The cuts come as McDonald’s is rolling out its customizable create-your-taste platform, a build-your-own sandwich option the company plans to begin expanding aggressively to 2,000 stores in the US this year. It is part of the Golden Arches’ effort to turn around its struggling U.S. business and compete with restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill that have seen success with their customized offerings.
McDonald’s disappointing sales have led the fast food giant to begin testing new menu items, including three new varieties of its prized Quarter Pounders.
The new burgers in development include a Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder, with white cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon and a new habanero-ranch sauce; a Deluxe Quarter Pounder, with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, mayonnaise and mustard; and a Bacon and Cheese Quarter Pounder, with American cheese, bacon, red onion, pickle, mustard and ketchup.
The company is also getting ready to launch a new McMuffin made with egg whites.
McDonald’s is testing its new fast food products during a time of major transition for consumer goods companies in the US, as Nation’s Restaurant News reports.
McDonald’s posted its first monthly sales drop in nine years earlier this month, amid a loss of customers to rival chains such as Burger King. McDonald’s global same-store sales fell 2.2 per cent in October.
Soon after that sales drop made headlines, McDonald’s announced plans to replace its US president, Jan Fields, who has been with the company for more than 35 years and who drove the expansion of its popular McCafe drink menu.
Jan Fields will be replaced by Jeff Stratton, McDonald’s global chief restaurant officer effective December 1, the company said.
“We feel that now was the right time to make a change in leadership for the U.S. business,” company spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem said on November 15.
McDonald’s is changing up its menu with three new Quarter Pounder burgers
McDonald’s chief executive, Don Thompson, recently told investors that slow growth and increased competition in the United States would be a “new normal” for the brand, requiring a greater emphasis on less expensive menu items.
Several factors are impacting McDonald’s declining sales, including the undercooked US economy and high unemployment among younger consumers who tend to favor fast food.
Other fast food chains, including Wendy’s and Yum! Brands, which operates KFC and Pizza Hut, have been suffering similar fates.
McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide, including more than 14,000 in the United States.