The struggle to develop a competitive chicken sandwich at McDonald’s is over, with the quick service restaurant chain reporting that sales of the McCrispy chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets now equal that of beef burgers.
"Our chicken category now represents $25 billion in annual system-wide sales, on par with beef," CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors on an earnings call on February 5.
"We continued to stay aggressive on chicken this quarter, making further progress towards our ambition of developing a reputation for great chicken," CFO Ian Borden said.
The McCrispy was first introduced by McDonald’s in 2021 as the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. However, the company announced in March 2023 that sandwich had been rebranded as the McCrispy. The chicken sandwich lineup features a white meat chicken filet, crinkle cut pickles and a buttered potato roll. It’s also available in Deluxe and spicy versions.
That same year, Kempczinski called the sandwiches “a good growth opportunity for the brand.”
The McCrispy chicken sandwich line, now available in 10 of McDonald’s largest markets globally, will serve as “the building blocks of our growing chicken business,” Kempczinski explained during the call.
"We see the potential to add another point of chicken share by 2026, in part through an expansion of our McCrispy platform into wraps and tenders," he added.
An ongoing quest for a competitive chicken sandwich
Having a competitive chicken sandwich has long been a focus for McDonald’s.
In July 2019, the board of the National Owners Association (NOA), a group of McDonald’s franchise owners, called chicken sandwiches a top priority to help bring in more customers and better compete in the chicken sandwich wars, which boosted sales for the entire quick service restaurant chicken market.
In August 2020, McDonald’s Kempczinski promised customers that innovation in chicken would be coming by the end of the year. The long-awaited launch finally occurred in 2021 with the addition of the Crispy Chicken Sandwiches to menus nationwide.