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McDonald's effort on fresh steak is paying off.



Last year, the burger chain switched to fresh meat quartz pound burgers from frozen at most of its stores in the adjacent US. That change has led to a 30% increase in revenue of a quarter pound on average over the last 12 months, the company said on Monday. It also helped McDonald's ( MCD ) burgers gained market share in what the industry calls the "informal eating out" category for the first time in five years, the company said.

McDonald has made the change to appeal to consumers' growing interest in ingredient transparency. Buyers today want to know where the food comes from, Marion Gross, the company's leading supply chain officer for North America, told CNN Business.

McDonald's sale of the fresh quarter-pound burger was particularly strong in May 201

8, when it was first introduced, thanks in part to the marketing efforts. More recently, the company included the fresh beef burger in its 2 for $ 5 deal for the first time. The campaign worked well, CFO Kevin Ozan noted in an analyst as well as discussing the results for the first quarter.

Going from frozen to fresh steak was a challenge.

"It was a big change that was needed" to make the shift, Gross said. Suppliers needed new packaging equipment and several refrigerators, among other things to ensure that the fresh steak was handled safely, she said. Distribution trucks needed the right temperature monitoring systems to properly transport the steak. And in McDonald's kitchen, employees had to implement new food safety practices.

Overall, the shift was one of the "biggest, boldest movements we have made for a long time," Gross said. It is the largest supply chain change company has made since it began serving breakfast all day in 2015, she noted.

It has also charged the company's franchisees, who had to pay for some of the changes, like different refrigeration and storage systems.

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Last year, the company experienced some friction with its franchisees. In October, the National Owners Association – a self-funded group of McDonald's franchisees – met for the first time discussing ways to work with McDonald's to improve their livelihoods. The company's aggressive remodeling plan, which includes the upgrading of digital menu tray stores and self-catering kiosks, has put pressure on franchisees, who are also struggling when McDonald's adds new menu items or makes other major changes.

Gross noted that the shift was "not easy", but that franchisees eventually came on board because fresh beef burgers are only better. "The franchisees became very believers," she said.

McDonald's shared news about the improved fresh beef sales, as it raises questions about whether it will introduce a plant-based protein burger to its American menu.

Several fast food chains, including Burger King, have added menu items with meat-free meat that consumers are interested in the product. McDonalds serves a vegan citizen in Europe.

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