Onion Rings - 300 - © Pioneer Woman

McNewsBites: Onion Rings, McRibs, McPlant Sammys…

Just thought I’d bring you up to date on the latest McDonald’s news. There’s a fair amount this week, though most of the items I’m seeing don’t merit a whole post each. Anyway, it’s basically good news for McRib lovers and bad news for Onion Ring fans…

McRib - © 2023 McDonald'sMcDonald’s controversial McRib Sandwich. You either love it or hate it…

Why no Onion rings?

Folks love Burger King’s Onion Rings. So much so that they apparently challenge fries for sales volume. But McDonald’s doesn’t have them on the menu. And according to one savvy market watcher, probably never will.

The ‘secret’ reason there are no McRings?

“McDonald’s is the most profitable when it is the most efficient, and that efficiency in scale,” Mike Haracz, a former Manager of Culinary Innovation at the chain’s Chicago headquarters, tells all in a TikTok clip. “If McDonald’s could sell only one thing, that would be great for them, so they actually […] have reduced choice and have reduced options, more specifically in the United States.”

Aside from fountain beverages, fries are the most profitable item on McDonald’s menu. All McFries are the same thickness, cut from potatoes with strictly conrolled texture and moisture content. The chain has been able to boil down the fry making process to an actual science. The result? Perfect, consistent McDonald’s fries every time, every location.

Onion rings – unless manufactured from a uniform extruded paste, like Pringles Potato Chips – would be much harder to standardize. And whereas fries are just cut potatoes, rings have to be cut, separated from each other and breaded. And they just naturally have varying sizes and thicknesses. The product would cost McDonald’s significantly more than fries right of the the delivery truck and be harder to cook consistently.

At retail prices competitive with the other monster Fast Food Chains, the profit margin on rings would be a lot lower than the margin on fries. Worse than that, offering rings might result in fewer fries sales, reducing the profit from that product.

“[With onion rings] they would be selling a much less efficient, much less profitable item,” Haracz says. “Would you be willing to pay a lot more for your side of onion rings? […] They would probably have to charge you an extra dollar or something even more because they’re not as efficient at making onion rings as they are with French fries.”

There. Now you know.

McRib back from the dead – again

McD’s swore it was the absolute, final curtain call for the McRib sammy when they held a gala retirement tour for the at times controversial menu item back in 2022.

But earlier this week, McD’s announced the sandwich you either love or hate (there’s no middle ground) is coming back for a limited time next month.

“Update from McDonald’s: ‘It turns out not everyone was ready to say goodbye to the McRib after last year’s Farewell Tour. While it won’t be available nationwide, some lucky fans may find their favorite elusive saucy sandwich at their local McDonald’s restaurants this November,” the chain confirmed, in an online post and a news release.

Seems that every time McD’s tries to bury the McRib, it comes back from the grave at the insistent behest of fans who just won’t let it die.

In simple terms, the McRib swill be back for a limited time at selected outlets. You can find the location nearest you at the McRib Locator website.

McPlant death crippled Beyond Meat

The much-heralded McPlant Burger was quietly dropped by McDonald’s in August, 2022. It just wasn’t selling as well as expected. Not nearly as well, actually. Technically speaking, the McPlant didn’t even survive market testing.

For one thing, McPlant cost more than a comparable real beef burger. In addition, franchisees reported that folks outside the big US cities weren’t interested in plant-based meat alternatives. Many operators said they barely sold 20 McPlants a day, on average. Nowhere near the 40 to 60 they initially estimated.

Not to mention that McDonald’s kitchens couldn’t accommodate the preparation of vegetarian menu items separately from animal protein-containing products. So it couldn’t be classified as vegetarian, much less ‘vegan’.

But the real impact of the Death of McPlant landed not on McDonald’s, but on Beyond Meat, the folks who co-developed the plant-based burger with McD’s.

Beyond reported sales of its vegan burger patties fell sales fell 30.5 percent to $102.1 million in the second quarter of this year.

Beyond stock prices ‘plummeted’. And Food Sector observers began to as if the ‘Fake Meat’ bubble was bursting.

I’ve always said that plant-based meat alternatives were, at best, a ‘bridging soluition’ between the fading real-meat food economy and the coming (inevitable) plant-based food regime. On reflection, I have to agree that he plant-based meat substitutes have seen their day. But I’ll admit surprise as to high fast they rose – and subsequently fell.

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~ Maggie J.