McDonald's takes 'risks' with new menu items

by Bryan Salvage
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OAK BROOK, ILL. — When people think about the ever-evolving McDonald’s national menu, they may think everything it introduces turns to gold. But not everything McDonald’s introduces remains on its national menu. Company officials contend the menu changes are not always a reflection of a failing product.

Two well-documented discontinued items include the McLean Deluxe, which was a lower-calorie Quarter Pounder-type sandwich introduced in 1991, and the Arch Deluxe, which was an attempt to dress up the chain’s mainstay burgers. Another product on McDonald’s discontinued list is the Chicken McGrill, which was the same as the Crispy Chicken, but with a marinated, grilled chicken breast.

“The Chicken McGrill absolutely worked; we pulled it off the menu because we had other options on our Dollar Menu, and we introduced a new line of premium chicken sandwiches. But it would be a mistake to say this product didn’t work,” Danya Proud, Sr. Manager, U.S. Media Relations, McDonald’s USA, told MEATPOULTRY.com.

“We extensively test new products before anything is introduced nationally,” she adds. “Some of the items — I don’t know if they were ever on the national menu.

“When you’re looking at supplies for 14,000 restaurants, you can’t keep introducing things and pulling them off the menu because the infrastructure behind the supply chain is so significant .....from an operations perspective as well as a consumer perspective, [a new menu item] is extensively looked at before that decision is made to introduce something nationally,” she says.

“I think the biggest takeaway for us is to know what your customers are going to come to your restaurants and buy,” Ms. Proud continued. “No McDonald’s (executive) is going to say ‘Just introduce things and don’t worry about taking risks’...we take calculated risks. There are never any guarantees, but we extensively test (new menu items before they launch nationally).”

In conclusion, Ms. Proud said of McDonald’s menu items: “Let’s put it this way....more things stay on the McDonald’s menu than come off.”
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