A year after announcing plans to begin selling Quarter Pounders and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers made from non-frozen beef patties, McDonald’s USA is now menuing the products at approximately 3,500 restaurants in the Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh and Salt Lake City markets. The goal is to have all outlets in the continental United States serving them by the middle of 2018.
The shift away from frozen patties is, in part, a move to counter fresh burger theme advertising thrusts from fast food rival Wendy’s. It is also aimed at addressing competition from relatively new players on the burger block such as Shake Shack, as well as eateries that are especially targeting millennial clientele.
In the words of a press release issued by the world’s largest QSR chain on March 6: “The move to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers is the latest in McDonald’s food journey to build a better McDonald’s. It’s also one of the latest customer-led initiatives in the United States that builds on several other recent milestones, including All Day Breakfast, committing to only sourcing cage-free eggs by 2025 in the US, and serving chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.”
What the press release did not mention is that McDonald’s continues to embrace frozen components for its breakfast items and chicken products, as well as french fries and hamburger products that are outside the Quarter Pounder and Signature Crafted Recipe portfolio. And for good reason, as frozen fare is far for efficient to prepare and all but eliminates food spoilage greatly reduces waste.
The move away from frozen patties is reportedly not popular among many franchise owners, who are concerned that order fulfillment speed may suffer during peak business periods.
Not to worry, says McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski, who insists that the QSR chain will continue to fill orders promptly.
“The switch to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers is the most significant change to our system and restaurant operations since All Day Breakfast [in 2015],” he said. “We are proud to bring our customers a hotter and juicier quarter-pound burger at the speed and convenience they expect from us.”
The schedule calls for gearing up the transition to cooked-when-ordered fresh burgers over the next month in additional markets including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, with full rollout to participating restaurants nationwide by early May.
Meanwhile, the Oak Brook, Illinois-headquartered chain is expanding its menu with a new premium Garlic White Cheddar Burger under the Signature Crafted Recipes banner that will debut in April. The premium product is made with a choice of beef or chicken (buttermilk crispy or artisan grilled) accented with a savory combination of creamy garlic aioli and crispy garlic chips, plus a slice of tomato, iceberg lettuce and white cheddar cheese on a toasted roll.