Iconic fast food chain McDonald’s does not make changes to their menu very often. Sure, they might introduce new items now and then—and the overall offerings change from country to country—but the company is not quick to change a successful formula. But the industry, itself, is changing; consumers demand healthier options and things like fresh—not frozen—beef patties.
Well, McDonald’s has taken notice, finally introducing fresh patties about a year ago. And it may be one of the most important things they could have done as just a year after the change, the industry giant has finessed its way to the top of the “informal eating out” category. This dining category includes not only fast-food chains but also casual-dining chains and other short service concepts.
Most importantly, it is the first time in five years that McDonald’s has improved in this category.
And, indeed, the switch to fresh all-beef patties in the quarter pounders seem to be a big part of the momentum. McDonald’s says that quarter-pounder sales, alone, increased more than 50 percent in just the first month of introducing the patties through the national rollout. Following this success, McDonald’s sold 40 million more of these burgers by the end of Q1 2018.
McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski comments, “Our numbers speak for themselves, with the introduction of fresh beef and the promotions including fresh beef quarter-pound burgers helping result in a sustained quarter-pound burger sales increase of 30 percent on average throughout the entire first year.”
Now, some experts would tell you that they predicted the fresh beef addition would disrupt some of the market. After all, Wendy’s has been using “fresh, never-frozen” patties in all of its burgers for years. As a matter of fact, Wendy’s tried to turn McDonald’s launch on its head, sparring with the chain on Twitter (where Wendy’s tends to win over fans) by running ads that emphasize McDonald’s is only using fresh patties in a single menu item.
For now there is no way to know for sure if the bump in sales at McDonald’s has had any impact on sales at Wendy’s (or other chains). Then again, other big chains, like Burger King, have added meatless options so all we can say for now is the industry is definitely in the middle of a sea change.