McDonald’s Corp is hoping 2021 is the year it cracks the crispy chicken sandwich by rolling out three different versions in the United States, the company told Reuters.
The world’s biggest burger chain will add the new sandwiches – including a spicy version – on Feb. 24 as it takes on major chicken chains such as Restaurant Brands International Inc’s Popeyes, in a play for a share of a growing market.
But to do so, it must overcome operational and structural hurdles, including a lack of pressure fryers, and fend off skeptics who doubt its new sandwich will be on par with those offered by poultry purveyors.
“I would bet big time that McDonald’s never competes in the chicken business,” restaurant marketing consultant Chas Hermann said of the menu additions.
McDonald’s said its crispy chicken sandwich will also come in “classic” and “deluxe” versions. All will contain a new white meat chicken fillet served on a toasted, buttered potato roll.
“They’ll definitely improve their chicken sandwich. It won’t win awards. They will have some of the very best marketing around it,” Hermann added.
A social-media-fueled war between privately-owned Chick-fil-A and Popeyes raised the game for the fast-food industry after Popeyes launched its first-ever chicken sandwich in August 2019 and quickly sold out.
That drove sustained spikes in Popeyes’ comparable sales growth beginning that third quarter of 2019, and prompted other companies to try to follow its lead.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Alexander Smith)