For decades, fast food fans have had a clear choice when it comes to dinner - quality versus value. As the current ultra-aggressive interbrand rivalries prove, this is an issue that divides foodies across the world. However, a recent announcement from one of the industry’s giants could be a sign that times are changing
Historically, customers have always known roughly were they stand when it comes to the big businesses. Burger King have always emphasised their flame grilled cooking techniques, while Wendy’s have harped on about fresh beef since the middle of the 80s. Both have mercilessly mocked the industry’s other major name, McDonald’s, for poor quality produce and flavourless food.
It may have appeared to casual observers that McDonald’s were simply resigned to the endless social media and televisual trolling dished out by its smaller, upstart competitors. Afterall, McDonald’s remains the largest fast food franchise in the world. However, it has now become clear that they have in fact been working on a secret weapon designed to tip the balance of the junk food war in their favour. An announcement made earlier this year has revealed that the Golden Arches are making the move away from frozen beef to fresh.
According to McDonald’s US President, Chris Kempczinski, the seemingly drastic decision was actually thoroughly planned and researched. In a March press release, Kempczinski revealed that the process, “started four years ago with us asking, 'How do we really make a step change in the quality of our burger at McDonald's?'" After weighing up a number of available options, the decision was made to substitute the new ingredient in to the chain’s famous Quarter Pounder burger.
The key for McDonald’s has been balancing the brand’s reputation for speedy, cheap service with higher quality ingredients. Despite the difficulty involved in walking this tightrope, McDonald’s employee Jasper Jones revealed that the business believe that they have pulled it off. “What we wanted to make sure [was that we could] keep the drive-thrus open," the franchisee explained, "And we've been able to crack that code."
This is not the first indication that McDonald’s are beginning to put greater emphasis on quality. Recent years have seen the business make drastic changes to other menu staples, such as using antibiotic-free chicken and gourmet drinks options. If the business can continue on this current new trajectory while maintaining its image as a value outfit, the consequences for competitors could be dire.
After positive early reviews, McDonald’s have declared their intention to roll out the new ingredients across the country and on a range of different menu items, including all signature crafted burgers and any new releases. With such drastic changes imminent, insults over the relative quality of different products feel a whole lot more hollow. Though, as the recent Wendy’s Super Bowl ad proves, burger brands continue to send broadsides across each other's bows, it looks as though adversaries will have to find another stick with which to beat Maccies in the future.