McDonald's new all-day breakfast as part of the fast-food chain’s “Real Food Revolution” has been successful for the restaurant and its egg industry partners alike, according to Lance Richards, vice president, McDonald’s Menu Innovation Team. Richards was a guest speaker at the American Egg Board meeting in Rosemont, Illinois, on November 12.

After several years of declining sales and transitioning to a new management team, McDonald’s knew it had to make changes, and Richards said two main issues were identified:

1. McDonald’s wanted the consumer to interact with the brand on its terms and not on the consumers’ terms.

2. McDonald’s was giving consumers what was easy for them versus listening to consumers’ wants.

In order to address these issues, menu changes were made to focus on core products and elevate their quality, including the introduction of clean-label artisan chicken, cage-free eggs and clean-label buttermilk crispy chicken. One other important switch has helped to turn sales around: making McDonald’s breakfast menu items available after 10:30 a.m.  

How McDonald’s implemented all-day breakfast

Under previous management, all-day breakfast was always off the table because of operational challenges in restaurant kitchens, but according to Richards, the new management team and a new focus on listening to what consumers want turned that around. Test kitchen trials at McDonald’s Innovation Center showed that although serving the full breakfast menu all day wasn’t possible, it could focus on the menu items consumers want most and put together an offering that could help reset the business and “reset how people eat breakfast in America,” he said.  

For example, as part of this limited menu, McDonald’s traditional Egg McMuffin is not available to the whole country all day long. Based on consumer preference research, McDonald’s divided the U.S. into a “muffin market" (70 percent) or a “biscuit market," in which 30 percent of the country has an egg sandwich on a biscuit available to them any time.

More eggs on the menu in the future?

McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu has been successful on many fronts, according to Richards:

  • Both restaurant foot traffic and revenue have increased
  • Eggs are now a feature on the menu all day, for which Richards thanked the egg industry’s great partnership and support
  • Media and consumer responses have been overwhelmingly positive

But, McDonald’s is not stopping there, which could have a great impact on egg producers and suppliers. Richards identified McDonald’s main priorities going forward: focusing on the food and creating greater value for consumers. He said the fast-food chain plans to prioritize internal resources with a focus on customer needs; enhance what is already being offering to attract consumers beyond the $1-2 price range; and create new platforms that give customers a reason to visit. McDonald’s will focus on strengthening its premium and core products – including egg and chicken products – while becoming less reliant on the entry-value items over time, he said.

All of this is good news for the egg industry as it opens the door to more menu innovation with the poultry protein at McDonald’s. The fast-food chain will be able to experiment in the future with developing new menu items with eggs – not just expanding breakfast offerings but creating options that incorporate eggs into lunch and dinner, as well.

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Lance Richards, vice president, McDonald's Menu Innovation team, speaking at the American Egg Board meeting.