McDonald’s Spent $50 Million on TV Advertising in April

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“McDonald’s easily led all companies in TV ad spend last month for the second time in 2019, spending $50 million to promote its new any size $1 soft drink limited time offer, and mix and match 2 for $5 deal to customers.

The Illinois-based chain last topped the list in February when it introduced bacon as a new topping on its signature burgers. McDonald’s was pressed by analysts last week on its first quarter earnings call about when it would also delve into the growing plant-based food trend, which rival Burger King has tapped into with Impossible Foods. CEO Steve Easterbrook said McDonald’s is currently weighing additional complexities of launching its own product, while also assessing the sustainability of the consumer trend.

“Our menu teams are clearly paying close attention to it,” said Easterbrook. “They are discussing this amongst each other and with some of the options that are out there. So maybe more to come, but nothing much to say about it in the moment.”

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Burgers still America’s favorite sandwich, chicken gaining ground

Image result for Burgers still America's favorite sandwich, chicken gaining ground“Burgers have been a top item ordered at U.S. restaurants for decades, but chicken sandwiches have come on strong over the last several years, according to The NPD Group receipt-harvesting service, Checkout, which tracks the same buyers’ purchasing behaviors over time. It found that although chicken sandwiches were still behind burgers in the sandwich pecking order, they were gaining ground. Over the 12 months ending February 2019, chicken sandwich orders were up 4% at 4 billion serving, but burger orders were flat at 8.6 billion ordered.

By the numbers, the average number of times a customer purchased a burger at a restaurant over the same period was 14.7 times, and the customer purchase frequency of chicken sandwiches was 8.7. Burgers also have the upper hand when it comes to menu importance or the percentage of all restaurant orders that include one. Burgers were included in 14.1% of all restaurant orders and chicken sandwiches were included in 6.5% of orders.”

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McDonald’s Redefines Health In Terms Of Sustainability

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“McDonald’s is moving toward a menu free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, but every product has a unique challenge, said Amy Wilcox, director of quality systems and supply chain management for McDonald’s USA. She and her colleague, Cynthia Goody, chief nutritionist for McDonald’s, explained how “clean” ingredients are a key part of the chain’s sustainability initiative during the “Sustainable Approach to the Menu” panel at Restaurant Leadership Conference.

But “we can’t use the clean label description, because everyone has a different definition,” said Wilcox. “We had to create our own definition for suppliers, operators and customers. And that involved a lot of outreach to make sure all our suppliers were on the same page.”

The chain, in fact, announced this past September that is was removing artificial preservatives from its “classic” burger lineup in the U.S. “We have a great group of suppliers,” said Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s U.S., at the time. And now, the chain announced that a third of its eggs are cage-free—and it expects to source 726 million cage-free eggs this year. Right now, chicken nuggets fit the sustainability criteria, as do American cheese and burgers. As far as McDonald’s burger goes, “the pickle presented a problem,” said Wilcox. “We couldn’t find one that fit our definition, so we went forward with what we had and put an asterisk next to it on the menu. Being truthful and transparent is important to us.”

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McDonald’s Spent $48 Million to Push Bacon in February

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“McDonald’s led all companies in advertising dollars spent at $48 million, less than what the chain allocated in January. Taco Bell (second on the list) cut its TV advertising funding by nearly half, likely due to Grubhub picking up most of the tab for its joint commercial with the chain touting limited time free delivery. Grubhub reportedly spent just under $7 million in ad dollars in February.

The biggest surprise of the month was Arby’s, which catapulted up 26 spots from January to crack the top 10 in advertising dollars spent. The quick service restaurant has completed a large sales turnaround in recent years by relying more on promotions and new deli meats to entice customers, according to Forbes. The chain’s success also led its parent company to acquire both Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic in 2018.

Overall, quick service restaurants and pizza chains dominated TV advertising again in February, with Yum Brands’ subsidiaries — Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive month.  Olive Garden and Applebee’s, the casual restaurants that cracked the top 10 in January, ended February at 11 and 14, respectively, after shelling out more than $10 million each.”

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Billionaires Are Betting Big on Alternative Meat

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Creating designer protein that can make your veggie burger taste like the real thing is as easy as brewing beer. Or at least that’s what a new subsidiary of Boston-based bio-manufacturing startup, Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., says.

Ginkgo’s Motif Ingredients, which aims to replicate animal protein for meatless alternatives, is getting $90 million from investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose board includes tech billionaires Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Jack Ma. Commodity powerhouse Louis Dreyfus Co. and Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s dairy-exporting giant, are also backing the company.

The goal at Ginkgo is to get alternative products to market faster, chief executive officer Jason Kelly said in an interview. In a statement announcing the funding, the company likened making alternative foods to the beer-brewing process, because vital ingredients such as vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and flavors are made through fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria. Eliminating extra time in the lab can streamline the process and make it go faster, Kelly said.

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New on the Menu: Jack in the Box’s Late-Night Proposition

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“Jack in the Box is expanding its “french fries in a box” concept to two more potato, fat, and dairy concoctions that would make any cardiologist squirm. In the company’s defense, they’re going to try just about anything to keep their franchisees happy right now. Also in Jack’s defense? It doesn’t have the meal in this installment that must worry doctors the most.

Every few weeks Skift Table will wrap up the latest seasonal and new items on chain restaurant menus in the United States. We don’t call out everything (sorry limited-time Pumpkin Spice something), but we will call out items that are notable for what they mean to a chain, the season, or consumer habits.”

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Fast Food Prices Rise to Better Reflect True Costs

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“Dollar cheeseburgers and discount nuggets are getting Americans in the door at their favorite fast-food joints, but the savings end there.

Even as the recent fast-food discount wars rage on, with Burger King advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1 and Pizza Hut offering $5 pies, fast-food items that don’t make it onto value menus are actually climbing in price. Median fast-food hamburger prices have jumped 54 percent over the last decade to about $6.95, according to menu researcher Datassential. Chicken sandwiches are up 27 percent. Both surpass overall U.S. price inflation during that same time.”

“McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, recently started touting a $6 meal including a burger, fries, a drink and a pie, but it’s also offering plenty of items at the other end of the price scale. Its honey-barbecue glazed chicken tenders are more than $6 without any drinks or sides, and the new Bacon Smokehouse Quarter Pounder meal runs nearly $9 in Chicago.”

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