cnbc.com – The burger giant said Tuesday that it has already brought fresh beef Quarter Pounder patties to about 3,500 domestic restaurants so far and it plans to reach some 14,000 U.S. locations by early May. Locations in Hawaii and Alaska are not included in this rollout.
While fresh beef has been in the works for years, it comes at a time when fast food restaurants are battling for consumers’ attention and their wallets. Dollar menus, quirky, limited-time menu items and beverage discounts have all been launched in an effort to woo diners.
McDonald’s has tried to walk the line between cheap deals and better quality food over the last few years. The burger chain has been working to upgrade the quality of its menu and its transparency around how it sources its ingredients. The Golden Arches has ditched antibiotics from its chicken nuggets, added fruit options and removed soda from the Happy Meal.
‘No better place to start than with our burgers’
“McDonald’s is a burger company and there is no better place to start than with our burgers,” Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s U.S., told reporters ahead of the announcement.
McDonald’s fresh beef launch has been in the works for more than 4 years, helped along by Joe Jasper, who has been with the company for more than 40 years. Jasper owns 20 McDonald’s locations in the Fort Worth area of Texas and was the very first franchisee to test out fresh beef.
Jasper, who has been part of McDonald’s food and menu innovation team for about 15 years, was tasked with finding ways to elevate the company’s burgers.
“I talked to my staff and I asked them ‘what do you think we should do?'” Jasper said. “They said ‘Well, Joe, we can’t let the drive-thru slow down. So that got us to thinking, the only way to make a burger fast is from a fresh steak. So, we started experimenting with fresh beef.”
In fact, the fresh beef patties actually cook 20 to 40 seconds faster than a frozen patty, according to McDonald’s.
When McDonald’s sought to expand the fresh beef test to more locations in Texas, Jasper handpicked several franchisees that he thought would be resistant to adding fresh beef to the menu.
This could be great… or the worst thing since the Szechuan sauce riots of 2017.