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Bagels A $Billion Decision for McDonald’s

It may seem like a small, almost insignificant decision to you – whether to  have a Biscuit, a Bun, an English Muffin or a Bagel as the Bread Base for your breakfast Sandwich. But, when McDonald’s decides to add Bagels to its breakfast menu, market supremacy and billions of dollars are at stake…

McDonalds Big Breakfast - © 2018 McDonalds CanadaMcDonald’s Big Breakfast (above), and A&W’s All-Canadian Special (below).
A&W definitely does the platter better. And their Breakfast Sandwiches are superior, too.

A&W All-Canadian - © 2018 A&W

McDonald’s is adding Bagels to its Breakfast Sandwich menu,but only after much analysis and due consideration. And it’s more than just ‘trying something new for a change’.

Bagels are, in fact, available as part of any McD’s Breakfast Sandwich and as stand-alone snacks, with either of two types of Cream Cheese or Butter.

As usual, when McDonald’s gets into a new menu item, they are going all-out, offering a range of Bagel flavours: Original (plain), Everything, Multigrain, and Cinnamon and Raisin.

What’s the big deal?

For a start, industry analysts say Breakfast is the fastest growing day part for Fast Food sales, and has been consistently since 2012.

“Our goal is to grow our breakfast business,” Anne Parks, director of McCafé menu management for McDonald’s Canada told The Canadian Press. “We know bagels are a billion-dollar category with over 290 million servings [per year] and it is something our guests have been asking for, so the time is right.”

Why was the decision so tough for McDonald’s?

It wasn’t, but getting all the suppliers in a row and training frontline staff, and so on, was a big deal. You don’t just call up a bakery on Friday and say, “It’s McDonald’s Canada, here. Yah… Can we get 200,000 bagels, assorted, for Monday morning, delivered to a few thousand different locations across the country?”

Actually, the Bagel menu was test-marketed in Ontario before the final national roll-out was green-lighted. And bakeries were given ample time to prepare for regular mega-orders from McDonald’s before the curtain was raised.

But you can see why McDonald’s doesn’t take what might appear to be simple decisions lightly.

Who’s the competition?

Clearly, industry watchers say, McDonald’s is targeting Tim Horton’s for supremacy in the breakfast market. And it’s probably a good time, strategically, to challenge Tim’s, what with Horton’s franchisees in Canada and the United states rebelling against their head office, Restaurant Brands International (RBI) and Tim’s brand image, sales and overall popularity suffering.

But don’t forget the other players…

A&W has been matching McDonald’s All-day Breakfast initiative for some time, now. Starbucks, Country Style and even Taco Bell and Burger King are also in the running.

It looks as though Breakfast is going to be the primary battleground for the Fast Food Giants on into the 2020s.

What’s next?

McD’s has previously offered regionally-popular breakfast fare at overseas locations for some time, now. Porridge, Breakfast Pies, Toast, and Croissants have done well in their respective markets. Even Broth and Noodles, in Asia. There’s no telling what McDonald’s might offer in the future, in its quest for Breakfast Market Supremacy…

~ Maggie J.