OAKBROOK, Ill. – While Don Thompson adjusts to the role of chief executive officer at McDonald’s Corp., customers may soon notice more chicken items on the menu instead of beef, predicts a Bloomberg report. Thompson is reportedly pulling from McDonald’s 160-item recipe book to sell new food and attract frugal consumers amid a nervous global economy.

During a consumer conference on May 30, Thompson said, “It’s a “tremendous opportunity.”

“Some great examples include our large wrap in Europe and snack items like Chicken McBites,” he added. “Our customers have given us permission to stretch our brand, so we are entering new categories with new products.”

As a result, McDonald’s wants to attract budget-minded Americans with chicken items, which can be priced lower than other proteins, said Bryan Elliott, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla. “The consumer is expressing some recent signs of distress” and chicken costs are “cheap relative to beef right now by a lot,” he said.

Chicken also is perceived to be healthier, Elliott said. A Big Mac features 550 calories, while a six-piece Chicken McNuggets order contains 280 calories.

Last week, McDonald’s began selling 410-calorie Spicy Chicken McBites in the US. Meanwhile, chicken consumption in the US is expected to increase 1.7 percent to 82 lbs. per person in 2013, while beef consumption may drop 2.2 percent to 54.5 lbs. next year, according US Department of Agriculture data.