The new chief executive officer of McDonald’s Corp. Don Thompson, is playing a new game of chicken.
The largest fast food chain restaurant plans to make a menu shift, adding more chicken options for the more cash-strapped customers.
For those cocking their head, asking why the shift, Thompson describes the move as a “tremendous opportunity.” Chicken costs are relatively low to other proteins right now, and this move may help gain and retain financially struggling customers. Chicken also has the perceived notion of being healthier than beef.
New menu items are set to be drawn from the existing 160-recipe McDonald’s menu.
“Some great examples include our large wrap in Europe and snack items like Chicken McBites,” Thompson said during a consumer conference on May 30. “Our customers have given us permission to stretch our brand, so we are entering new categories with new products.”
The global fast food giant is facing economic pressures, austerity in Europe, declining consumer confidence in the U.S. and slowing growth in Asia. May sales reports show slowing growth at McDonald’s restaurants open more than 13 months.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, poultry consumption is on the rise.
“Chicken consumption in the U.S. will increase 1.7 percent to 82 pounds (37 kilograms) a person in 2013, while beef consumption may decline 2.2 percent next year to 54.5 pounds,” reports Bloomberg.
McDonald’s introduced many new products, including McCafe coffee and smoothie items, during Thompson’s tenure as chief operating officer, which began January 2010.
Throughout the last five years, the company has also introduced products, such as fruit smoothies and oatmeal, aimed at capturing a more health-conscious consumer base.
Adding too many products can “be a detriment” according to Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Chicago-based researcher Technomic Inc. Tristano told Bloomberg, “They have to make sure that new food can be made quickly at thousands of locations.”
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