McDonald’s New Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

Hilary Russ wrote . . . . . . . . .

McDonald’s Corp is hoping 2021 is the year it cracks the crispy chicken sandwich by rolling out three different versions in the United States, as it takes on chains such as Restaurant Brands International’s Popeyes for a share of the growing market.

The world’s biggest burger chain confirmed to Reuters it plans to launch its crispy chicken sandwich in “classic”, “deluxe” and “spicy” versions on Feb. 24. All will contain a new crispy white meat chicken fillet served with crinkle-cut pickles on a toasted, buttered potato roll.

The new McDonald’s strategy is founded in part on the long-term popularity of Chicken McNuggets, which it has sold since the 1980s, and 2020’s limited time Spicy Chicken McNuggets, which contributed to September U.S. comparative sales that were the highest in nearly a decade.

“As commonplace as chicken is, it’s a growth area. You want to participate in that growth,” said Mark Kalinowski, an independent restaurant equities analyst.

But to really ruffle feathers in the market, McDonald’s needs to overcome operational and structural hurdles, including a lack of pressure fryers, and prove wrong skeptics who doubt it can match sandwiches offered by pure poultry purveyors.

“I would bet big time that McDonald’s never competes in the chicken business,” restaurant marketing consultant Chas Hermann said of the menu additions.

A social-media-fueled war between privately-owned Chick-fil-A and Popeyes raised the game for the fast-food industry after Popeyes launched its first-ever chicken sandwich in August 2019.

The Popeyes sandwich quickly sold out and drove sustained spikes in its comparable sales growth beginning that quarter, prompting other companies to try to follow its lead.

Chick-fil-A’s growth in the South also pressured McDonald’s franchisees there, who pushed for the new sandwiches.

“They’ll definitely improve their chicken sandwich. It won’t win awards. They will have some of the very best marketing around it,” Hermann added of the McDonald’s move.

At least two dozen restaurant chains launched new or improved chicken sandwiches in 2020 even as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted supplies, workers and operations, trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News said.

If McDonald’s crispy chicken is successful, an average location could sell as many as 150 sandwiches per day, said Credit Suisse analyst Lauren Silberman.

By comparison, for a typical Burger King restaurant that 40 units of a new sandwich per day would be considered very successful, she said.

McDonald’s also needs to keep costs low to appeal to existing customers and compete with $4 sandwiches from rivals.

CHICKEN PLATFORM

At its Investor Day on Nov. 9, McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger said the sandwich was a “jumping off point” for an even broader “chicken platform”.

“Our chicken-only competitors here and abroad have strong brand equity and credibility. Developing a reputation for great chicken represents one of our highest aspirations,” he said.

The existing McChicken sandwich could also see new flavors, marketing and promotions, Erlinger said.

McDonald’s McNuggets, which are processed, battered, partly pre-cooked and frozen before shipping, are one thing. A fresh-tasting fillet to beat chains at their own game is another.

“Trying to ensure large, thick pre-breaded chicken to 14,000 stores can be difficult,” said former franchisee Jim Lewis.

McDonald’s also lacks equipment used by poultry specialists – pressure cookers and hand-breading stations inside stores.

It is “very hard to do something with the equipment that they have and the complexity you have in the kitchen, it’s very hard to manage that,” Restaurant Brands’ Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado said of McDonald’s.

Popeyes’ chicken is also marinated for 24 hours in the restaurant, he added.

“If it were easy to do, we could do it at Burger King,” he said of Restaurant Brands’ burger chain.

But McDonald’s huge scale could help it.

There about 13,846 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States – about as many as all the Chick-fil-A, Popeyes, Yum-owned KFC, Church’s, Wingstop, Zaxby’s, Bojangles and El Pollo Loco locations combined.

“Customers have to drive past two or three McDonald’s to get to a (Chick-fil-A) or a Popeyes,” said Richard Adams, a consultant to franchisees. “That’s an opportunity to pull in those customers with a comparable product.”

Source: Reuters

McDonald’s to Make Its Own Plant-based Meat Alternatives

Siddharth Cavale wrote . . . . . . . . .

Burger chain McDonald’s Corp said it would debut its own plant-based meat alternatives called “McPlant” in 2021, ending speculations over who the world’s biggest restaurant chain would partner with in a new frontier for the fast food industry.

The decision hit shares of plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat, which was seen as the front runner for a contract as it had conducted tests of a so-called “P.L.T.” burger at nearly 100 McDonald’s locations in Ontario, Canada, earlier this year.

Beyond Meat was not immediately available for comment. Its stock was down nearly 8% in morning trading, ahead of its quarterly results after market close.

McDonald’s, which reported market-beating profit and revenue estimates for the third quarter on Monday, did not comment on why it did not continue with Beyond Meat’s offerings in the United States.

“Plant-based products are an ongoing consumer trend. It’s not a matter of if McDonald’s will get into plant-based, it’s a matter of when,” McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said on a call with analysts.

Analysts, rival fast food companies and plant-based protein producers have been closely watching McDonald’s plans as it is one of the few national chains yet to sell plant-based meat burgers on a permanent basis.

While other chains have started offering plant-based meat options, including Restaurant Brands International Inc’s Burger King, White Castle and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc, a McDonald’s contract could be the biggest and would put the plant-based meat movement front and center in mainstream America.

McDonald’s said under its McPlant line, it could offer products including burgers, chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches, which it expects to test in some markets in 2021.

Source: Reuters

Omnipork Partners With McDonald’s Hong Kong in the Creation of its First Ever Vegetarian Menu

Green Monday is partnering with McDonald’s Hong Kong to launch its first-ever vegetarian menu. The leading fast-food restaurant chain has incorporate OmniPork Luncheon into over 280 outlets of McDonald’s and 122 outlets of McCafé in Hong Kong and Macau since 13th of October.

This is the second piece of monumental news in recent weeks for Green Monday which announced at the end of last month that it had secured a record raise of $70 million, which is the largest of its kind in Asia.

The menu is not vegan due to the use of eggs in the meals as below, but this is a significant development in the move towards a meat-free future.

The new menu includes:

  • OmniPork Luncheon and Scrambled Egg Burger
  • OmniPork Luncheon N’ Egg Twisty Pasta
  • OmniPork Luncheon Breakfast Platter.
  • OmniPork Luncheon & Egg Cheesy Toastie
  • Omnipork Luncheon & Egg Mayo Ciabatta

McDonald’s has been edging into the plant-based market globally, with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods both showing interest in gaining places in the behemoth’s menus; Beyond having recently been rumoured to launch into McDonald’s UK. Both Beyond and Impossible Foods have been making inroads into Asia, which is widely cited to be the next huge growth market for plant-based foods. Choosing a local brand over the western giants is a testament to the strength of Omnipork in the region.

Since the launch of its SPAM alternative in May, Omnipork has been releasing its products throughout foodservice in Asia to great acclaim. Luncheon meat is popular in Hong Kong but the market has been crippled by zoonotic diseases forcing consumers to switch to healthier, more sustainable options.

David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Green Monday commented, “We are extremely excited to have OmniPork Luncheon available in this leading restaurant chain. With its extensive restaurant outlets in Hong Kong and Macau, we hope more customers can indulge without guilt and embrace green lifestyle anywhere and anytime.”

Source: Vegconomist

Video: McDonald’s Prototype Dine-in Restaurant Amid COVID-19

McDonald’s Just Revealed What Its Restaurants May Soon Look Like

Dining in at fast-food restaurants is going to be very different. This is a lesson for all retailers.

Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

The portents for retail are dark.

The coronavirus has swiftly and decisively altered any thought of what used to be called normal.

For the restaurant business, this is especially disturbing. Tables will have to be further apart. Servers will wear masks and gloves.

What, though, of fast-food restaurants? How will they cope with the new rules?

Well, McDonald’s isn’t merely thinking about it. It’s already testing a prototype for dining in post-pandemic.

In the Netherlands, one of McDonald’s restaurants in the city of Arnhem has already been re-equipped for the new, disturbing world.

As you approach, big yellow circles mark out the approved social distance between one customer and the next.

Even before you enter the restaurant, there’s a handwashing station. Every customer has to wash their hands for 20 seconds before entering.

Next, you’re greeted by an old-fashioned restaurant host. Who’s behind a screen.

The host is wearing gloves but no mask.

Their job is to give customers a plastic sign with their customer number.

Next, the customers approach a touchscreen. They place their orders, and then move away to find a table.

As soon as they’ve left the touchscreen, a McDonald’s employee comes over to disinfect it.

Warning signs about social distancing are everywhere.

Then the food arrives, on a dim-sum style trolley.

This allows for a contact-free experience, where the customer picks their food up from the trolley, which again gets disinfected once they’re done.

And the minute the customers are finished and leave, their table is disinfected, ready for the next customer.

It’s commendable how quickly McDonald’s has moved to begin solving a truly difficult problem, one that’s going to affect so many areas of retail.

As a McDonald’s Netherlands spokeswoman told Reuters, the chain is hoping to maintain something of a restaurant atmosphere.

Still, she conceded:

These are drastic changes, but we hope to make them in a way that customers don’t notice them too much.

That’s quite a hope.

It’s inevitable that many people will reassess the experiences they have with brands and readjust their needs for those particular brands.

Though McDonald’s is clearly trying very hard, it surely knows that, for the foreseeable future, drive-thru and delivery may increasingly be the choice of many.

Moreover, the company’s relations with franchisees aren’t always ideal, so who will pay for the costs of both equipment and labor that these changes will incite?

Every business that involves at least some level of physical contact with customers will be frantically preparing different ways to re-create some sort of welcoming customer experience.

McDonald’s is showing just how hard that’s likely to be.

Watch video at You Tube (1:48 minutes) . . . . .

McDonald’s Is Launching Its First Ever Fully Vegan Meal in U.K.

Sarah Young wrote . . . . . . . . .

McDonald’s has announced the launch of its first ever vegan meal.

Just in time for Veganuary, the fast food chain will be releasing its new Veggie Dippers, which have been approved by The Vegan Society.

The new addition, called Veggie Dippers, are made from red pepper, rice, sundried tomato pesto and split peas surrounded by light and crispy breadcrumbs.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s has confirmed to The Independent that both the ingredients and cooking method have been certified by The Vegan Society, meaning there is no risk of cross contamination.

Customers will be able to order a fully vegan meal for the first time when the Veggie Dippers are teamed with vegan-friendly fries and any of the soft drink options and sauces for £4.99.

The dippers will also be able to be purchased as part of a Happy Meal, which will include two dippers, a vegan friendly side (vegetable bag, fruit bag or fries) and water or a Fruit Shoot for £2.99.

Alternatively, the Veggie Dippers can be purchased separately, with a bag of four costing £3.29.

Thomas O’Neill, head of food marketing at McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “In the last 12 months we’ve seen an 80 per cent uplift in customers ordering vegetarian options at McDonald’s, so it is time for the brand famous for the dippable McNugget to launch a dippable option for our vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian customers.

“The Veggie Dippers are a delicious addition to our menu and we’re looking forward to seeing what customers make of our first vegan Extra Value Meal and Happy Meal in the New Year.”

The Veggie Dippers will arrive in McDonald’s UK and Ireland restaurants on 2 January.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s launched its first ever vegetarian Happy Meal, the contents of which were chosen by children and their mothers.

While the new Happy Meal was marketed as being vegetarian, it is technically vegan, as it contains dairy-free and vegan ingredients.

However, as the tortilla wraps in the range pass through the same toaster that’s also used for McDonald’s buns, which contain milk, the fast food chain has chosen to label it as vegetarian.

There are two variations of the meal. The first, which costs £2.49, contains a veggie wrap, consisting of a red pesto goujon with tomato ketchup and shredded lettuce in a toasted wrap.

The second, which costs £2.99, contains a spicy veggie wrap, consisting of two red pesto goujons, spicy relish with tomato, lettuce and red onion wrapped in a toasted tortilla.

“There’s a growing demand for veggie food everywhere and it’s fantastic to see McDonald’s meeting the needs of their customers,” said Lynne Elliot, chief executive of The Vegetarian Society.

“It is especially important for young veggies to be able to choose something to eat when they are out with their friends.”

Source: Independent