In an interview with Time Magazine, McDonald’s US CEO Chris Kempczinski indicated that when questioned regarding disapproval of his 2019 chicken sandwich, the company is working to refresh its chicken menu offerings.
“We’re certainly working on ways that we can update and upgrade our chicken offering in the U.S. Suffice to say we will continue to be competing and innovating in chicken,” he told TIME.
Food reviewers have not been pleased with the limited-edition Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich from the Chicago-based chain which it rolled out in September 2019.
The sandwich was introduced alongside Glazed Tenders Spicy BBQ, which was reported to have a touch of jalapeno. The deals come out months after customers displayed curiosity over the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and Wendy’s Spicy Nuggets finally returning.
The Washington Post has gone so far as to describe McDonald’s Spicy BBQ products as “tardy” and “an amalgamation of various spare parts lying around the company garage” for not being very creative.
“I’m sure we’ll continue to be getting critiques about how we’re doing,” the McDonald’s CEO said, but he added that the restaurant is “feeling good about where we’re at, and we look forward to bringing the customers some more innovation in chicken.”
Currently the store offers the Fried Chicken Sandwich and McChicken Buttermilk. Two Chicken breakfast sandwiches were also reviewed earlier this year.
McDonald’s has experienced a significant drop in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic in the breakfast segment.
Kempczinski told investors in the first quarter of 2020 that breakfast revenues were down relative to other mealtimes, and it remained valid in August as much so.
“Breakfast has definitely been the most impacted day part. If you think about breakfast, lunch and dinner, breakfast is most susceptible to people not going to work,” Kempczinski told TIME. “We did some work, looking at cell-phone data and tracking mobility: what we saw in the mobility data was consistent with what we saw in the restaurant, which is essentially that people moving around was down dramatically in the mornings.”
Yet it is not just McDonald’s that have failed to keep breakfast revenues running. Breakfast sales for U.S. restaurant franchises fell by 18 per cent, according to a June survey by the NPD Group. Breakfast business in fast-food restaurants had almost quadrupled over the previous five years before the pandemic although cereal deteriorated.
The consumers have now shifted even more people preferring food when sitting home. According to Barrons, cereal intake rose 16 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.
Related to this trend, Kempczinski emphasized that the pandemic has caused customers seek healthy foods.
At McDonald’s, the “heart menu” for the business remains in demand, including the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and French fries for the product.
“You’re seeing it in grocery-shopping behavior where these brands that in some cases people have viewed as, years ago I used to eat soup, and now all of a sudden people are eating soup again. You’re seeing a similar desire for trusted favorites,” Kempczinski shared. “They’re less willing to be trying new things. They’re less likely to go out there and try some fancy new burger at McDonald’s.”
Instead of shifting food patterns, the 51-year-old CEO said that due to the coronavirus, ball pits at McDonald’s PlayPlaces might become a thing of the past.
“I don’t know if we’ve got ball pits in our future. There’s probably some good public-health reasons not for us to be doing a lot of ball pits.”