McDonald’s has been rolling out upgrades to its chicken over the last couple months in an attempt to better compete with rivals like Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A, which last year surpassed KFC to become the No. 1 chicken chain in the US, is touted as the “home of the orginal chicken sandwich.” The chicken it serves is fresh — never frozen — and it’s hand-breaded in restaurants.
McDonald’s, on the other hand, uses chicken that is flash-frozen in factories and shipped to restaurants, where it’s finished off in a fryer or on a grill before being served to customers.
McDonald’s is now testing a more upscale fried chicken recipe, according to investment firm Janney Capital Markets.
The new Buttermilk Crispy Chicken “is made with real buttermilk and will be cooked in the same fryer as McDonald’s other fried chicken menu items including Chicken McNuggets,” the company says.
McDonald’s also revealed this month that it’s removing a number of hard-to-pronounce ingredients from the grilled chicken used for sandwiches and wraps, and renaming it “Artisan Grilled Chicken.”
The change follows the company’s decision to reintroduce Premium Chicken Selects, which cost $US2.99 for a three-piece order, compared with $US1.99 for a four-piece Chicken McNugget order.
The Premium Chicken Selects are made from whole pieces of chicken tenderloin that are breaded and fried, whereas McNuggets are made from ground chicken meat.
“All of this fits in with McDonald’s attempts to improve itself — to be essentially a better McDonald’s than it has been as of late,” Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski wrote in a recent research note.
It’s a strategy that might just work for McDonald’s, writes retail analyst Brian Sozzi on The Street.
“Wall Street may be starting to take notice of McDonald’s focus on premium offerings,” Sozzi writes. “By attracting a new clientele or upselling loyal, lower-income customers, the fast food chain could start to reverse months of sluggish sales in the U.S.”
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