McDonalds and Wendy’s Pushing Poultry to Fight Beef Price Inflation

by Cynthia Wilson | May 3, 2011 9:36 am

Another week, another announcement that McDonalds (NYSE: MCD[1]) has found another way to serve chicken. After its test run of popcorn-style  Chicken McBites[2], this time the King of fast food is looking at the bun on its premium chicken sandwiches.

According to reports[3], McDonalds will replace the hamburger bun on its Classic, Club and Ranch BLT sandwiches with a soft bakery-style Artisan bun. McDonalds has no immediate plans to raise the price on the premium chicken lineup, so the move could give the sandwiches an upscale deli-look and entice more customers to try them. For those customers who prefer to ditch the bun for some greens with their chicken, McDonald’s is also adding an Asian chicken salad to its menu.

But McDonalds isn’t the only fast food chain looking to attract, or perhaps retain, customers with a broader chicken lineup. Wendy’s (NYSE: WEN[4]) is testing new chicken sandwiches[5] in Columbus, Ohio, and Dallas, Tex. Customers in Columbus can order Wendy’s Bistro Cheddar Chicken sandwich topped with Cheddar and an undefined “bistro sauce” and it’s Bruschetta Chicken sandwich featuring diced tomatoes, chopped basil and balsamic glaze on top with grilled, crispy or spicy chicken. In Dallas, customers can try Wendy’s new Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken sandwich and Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger for 99 cents each.

Still, McDonalds isn’t relying on chicken alone to attract and retain customers who may be turned off by the higher price tags to come on its Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, McCafe and other select items. For those looking to wet their whistle with trendier drinks, the company is introducing Frozen Strawberry Lemonade, a Mango Pineapple Smoothie and a Chocolate Banana Shake, although the smoothie and shake will only be available in some markets for a limited time.

It’s no guarantee the changes and additions will be what has been ailing margins at McDonalds and Wendy’s. But they may enough to distract customers from the rising price tags that sure to come on their favorite premium burgers and dairy-laden products at those chains.

As of this writing, Cynthia Wilson did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

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  2. Chicken McBites:
  3. reports:
  4. WEN:
  5. new chicken sandwiches:

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