McDonald’s Is Cutting Fat From the Menu (Not the Food)

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The golden arches may arch some eyebrows as McDonald’s tries to shrink its super-sized menu.

Since 2007 the number of items offered at the chain has expanded 70 percent to 145, Bloomberg says. It’s slowing down food preparation and customers are complaining.

The time it takes to get through the drive-through has increased over the past five years, industry research cited by Bloomberg says. It took an average of nearly 189 seconds for customers to get in and out last year, compared with 184 seconds in 2011 and 167 seconds in 2007. McDonald’s is slower than both Wendy’s and Taco Bell, but faster than Burger King.

While a bigger menu with new items that workers aren’t used to preparing can slow things down, experts say new items are important for the chain. They help it stay competitive with rivals. McDonald’s sales were down 1.2 percent for the first quarter of the year.

So even as the company tries to scale back the menu, it’s debuting several new items — and may reprice others to improve profit margins.

It could be a confusing shuffle for consumers, so here’s a summary of the changes, as reported by Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune and Fox News:

  • The Angus Third Pounder burgers, which are among the priciest offered at $4 or more, are going away.
  • Fruit & Walnut salads and Chicken Selects are also definitely leaving.
  • Other items that may disappear include Caesar salads, the McSkillet Burrito, the Southern Style Biscuit and Steak Bagels.
  • Three varieties of Chicken McWraps were recently introduced: Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken and Chicken & Ranch.
  • A new, lower-calorie McMuffin (made with a whole-grain muffin and egg whites, no yolk) is being rolled out.
  • Two new versions of the Quarter Pounder — Bacon and Cheese and Deluxe — will replace the Angus options, and a third new Quarter Pounder option, Habanero Ranch, will be added.
  • McDonald’s is testing a price increase for the McDouble and McChicken add-ons such as bacon for an extra cost.

When these changes occur can vary widely by market. There may also be menu and price differences between franchised restaurants and those operated directly by McDonald’s.

Do you think McDonald’s is heading in the right direction? Are you satisfied with the time it takes to get your order at the drive-through?

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