McDonald’s chicken sandwich could launch by end of 2020

McDonald’s customers should expect to see “some more innovation in chicken” in the near future, the company’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told Time.

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McDonald's
McDonald's

McDonald’s customers should expect to see “some more innovation in chicken” in the near future, the company’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told Time.

“We’re certainly working on ways that we can update and upgrade our chicken offering in the U.S. Suffice to say we will continue to be competing and innovating in chicken,” Kempczinski said during the interview.

“I don’t want to get too into revealing competitive secrets, but I think we are feeling good about where we’re at, and we look forward to bringing the customers some more innovation in chicken.”

Specific release dates for the new chicken sandwich remain unclear. However, Kempczinski said that the chain planned to add new items to its menu by the end of 2020 during an earnings call with investors in July.

Shift from beef to chicken

Viral marketing made fried chicken sandwiches a cultural phenomenon in 2019. Rival quick service restaurants Popeyes and Chick-fil-a battled for chicken supremacy in what was quickly dubbed the chicken sandwich wars, boosting sales for the entire chicken sandwich market.

“I do think one thing that is a global trend that we’re also seeing in the U.S. is protein consumption is shifting from beef to chicken. We’re paying attention to that in a number of markets again because consumption patterns are changing,” Kempczinski explained during the Time interview.

A top priority for the brand

McDonald’s has been under pressure to release a competitive chicken sandwich for at least a year.

In July 2019, the board of the National Owners Association (NOA), a group of McDonald’s franchisee owners, called chicken sandwiches a top priority for the brand to help bring in more customers and better compete in the chicken sandwich wars. In addition, 90% of McDonald’s U.S. franchisees said Chick-fil-A is the chain’s biggest threat for chicken market share in a January 2020 survey by Kalinowski Equity Media.

The chain tested a fried chicken sandwich containing the controversial ingredient MSG in select markets in December 2019. Although MSG isn’t found in any of the chain’s other menu offerings, both Chick-fil-a and Popeyes use it to enhance the flavor of their sandwiches.

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