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McDonald’s Rolls Pita, Bagel and Focaccia Burgers

McDonald’s this week has escalated the burger battle in Europe with a bold one-two-three menu punch that competitors will be hard-pressed to match. In France, the chain’s “World Tour” promotion simultaneously adds three innovative new platforms:

● There’s a bit of cumin added to the ground beef and a slightly spicy sauce that give the new Oriental Spicy burger a flavor twist. More importantly, this is McDonald’s first burger to be served on pita bread.

● Its first burger on a bagel is the American & Bacon, topped with Cheddar and, yep, bacon.

● Finally there’s a new Euro-flavor build, the Italian Focaccia burger with pesto sauce and Italian cheese. The chain has used focaccia before in Italy and other countries but not often with burgers.

The push comes as the importance of European sales increases for both McDonald’s and Burger King. McDonald’s domestic sales have been strong, with same-store sales at +4.4% through the first 10 months of 2010. But Europe has shown even more strength: year-to-date same-store sales are +4.5%. In October, European sales were up 5.8%, thanks especially to strength in France, the UK and Russia.

Burger King announced a 1.7% decline in global comp sales for its latest quarter thanks to a 4.2% dip in North America. Its Europe/Asia segment has positive comps (+1.4%). Burger King, too, has been aggressive with menu development in Europe. Among current limited-time items are bone-in chicken wings (King Wings) and Cheesy Bacon Nuggets in Germany and beef, chicken and veggie wraps in the UK.

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