[Updated with McDonald's Corp. comment]
With quick-service restaurant competition heavily dependent on the buzz and interest generated by new products, both McDonald’s and Burger King are auditioning new limited-time menu stars. Getting a tryout at McDonald’s is a three-item line of McWraps, while Burger King is looking at a new value-priced item, the $1 BK Bacon Burger.
In Chicago, McWraps are entrée-size tortilla wraps priced at $3.99 ($6.09 for a combo). Available with either grilled or crispy chicken, the varieties are Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken and Chicken & Ranch. The McDonald’s national menu has several kinds of Snack Wrap (chicken, Mac and Angus) but no full-size wraps. In 2010, it tested full-size Fresh Garden Wraps and Chicken Grande Wraps in separate trials.
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson has repeatedly voiced his support for importing menu items that score well outside the U.S. In April of this year, BurgerBusiness.com reported that sources were pointing to McWraps as the next international hit that might be brought here.
In a conference call with analysts in May, Thompson mentioned McWraps as an import possibility, which the chain has offered in almost every European and South American market (in beef, chicken, shrimp and veggie varieties) over the past two years. The Chicken & Bacon and Sweet Chili Chicken wraps were among varieties offered in Ireland last year. In Argentina, the wraps are on offer now, branded as McRoulette. McDonald’s is unlikely to widely roll out McWraps in the U.S. at least until after the London Olympics close (Aug. 12).
A McDonald’s spokesperson says the McWraps test in Chicago is just that and that no decision has been made on a wider rollout.
Burger King’s $1 BK Bacon Burger is another small, value-priced burger in the mold of BK Stackers and others. As tested, the burger is topped with bacon, onion, ketchup and mayo. As a budget option, it provides a balance to the higher-priced stars of Burger King’s Summer BBQ Menu. Sources indicate that the popular Carolina BBQ Whopper from that menu may remain on the menu when other summer LTOs cycle off. Nationally, Burger King is busy promoting its “Family Food” scratch-card game.
Dan Accordino, president-CEO of Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee (574 units), told analysts on Aug. 7 that Burger King has big plans for new LTOs. “The pipeline is robust. There are a whole new series of products that will be coming out shortly, after new LTO barbecue items are now being phased out and it’s going to be a new line of LTO products.” Carrols reported an 8.8% jump in BK comp sales for Q2 ended July 1, 2012.