In pockets of stores throughout Texas and Oklahoma, McDonald’s has been replacing its frozen beef patties with fresh meat for about a year. Now the fast food goliath says a majority of its stores nationwide will be serving up the non-frozen patties by mid-2018.
McDonald’s has faced increasing competition not just from its fellow national burger chains, but from smaller regional operators like Five Guys, Whataburger, and others, who offer fresher ingredients.
Despite McDonald’s being arguably the most famous name in burgers, its reputation with consumers is also sagging. The chain has repeatedly come in last on the American Customer Satisfaction Index of limited service restaurants, and its burgers have previously been named the least tasty of all fast food chains.
McDonald’s began testing the fresh beef patties last spring at 75 stores in the Dallas area, before expanding a few months later to some markets in Oklahoma. The company recently added more than 300 locations in North Texas to that test.
“We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees and we’re proud to have been part of a test that is creating a watershed moment for McDonald’s,” said one Dallas-area McDonald’s franchisee in a statement released by the company. “This test was driven by the Franchisees, our region and insights from what our customers are asking for when they visit McDonald’s.”
The change to fresh beef will involve the patty used for the Quarter Pounder and its related burgers, like the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers. We’ve asked McDonald’s to clarify what, if any, effect this change will have on the Big Mac; we’ll update if we receive a response.
Moving away from frozen patties can result in better burgers, but it can also increase food storage/waste costs for some franchisees if those fresh beef burgers aren’t going out the window at a rapid rate. The chain’s promise to cook burgers when ordered may also slow down service, potentially aggravating customers who choose McDonald’s for expedience over taste.