News – “McDonald’s wants to be a ‘credible chicken player’ in fast food competition”

nola.com – McDonald’s Corp., aiming to extend a three-year growth run, is betting that it can attract customers by being more like Chick-fil-A.

One of the company’s top priorities is to become a “credible chicken player” in the U.S., according to internal McDonald’s documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The initiative has been dubbed “Better Chicken,” the fast-food giant said in a letter to franchisees, who operate about 90 percent of its U.S. locations.

McDonald’s has already taken steps to elevate its chicken sandwiches and nuggets, which were long seen as a serviceable if uninspiring part of the menu. The chain has vowed to stop serving poultry with antibiotics, and it removed artificial preservatives from McNuggets. It also rolled out Southern-style sandwiches and tenders, which are coated in a crispy buttermilk breading that’s similar to what Chick-fil-A offers.

The idea now is to build on that push and establish McDonald’s as a top-tier chicken restaurant — rather than just a burger joint.

“It’s definitely a transformational era for McDonald’s,” said Jason Moser, an analyst at Motley Fool. “Chicken is part of that.”

The stakes are high, especially as consumers eat more chicken than ever before. Last year, they consumed 92 pounds on average, compared with less than 57 pounds of beef, according to estimates from the Department of Agriculture. At the same time, Tyson Foods Inc. and other chicken producers are investing in new processing plants, wagering that the meat will become an even bigger part of Americans’ diets.

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