UPDATE: Jan. 28, 2020: McDonald's added Chicken McGriddles and McChicken Biscuits to its breakfast menu for a limited time while supplies last, according to a press release. They will be available at participating restaurants.
- McDonald's is planning to bring chicken to its breakfast menu nationwide in January, Business Insider reports.
- The QSR currently offers chicken items for breakfast at about half of its U.S. locations.
- McDonald's did not disclose what the breakfast chicken item will be in documents obtained by Business Insider or when the publication requested a comment.
The battle for breakfast and the chicken sandwich wars is colliding. This no doubt reflects Chick-fil-A's growing influence over the fast food market, with Wendy's planning to launch a honey butter chicken sandwich as part of its new breakfast menu in 2020.
With Popeyes' chicken sandwich now a permanent menu item despite operational challenges, chicken competition in the QSR space will be at an all-time high. Following the launch of the menu item, Popeyes' daily traffic spiked 218% and held strong even after the sandwich sold out.
The hype surrounding the product benefited other chicken chains, as well — KFC, Chick-fil-A and Zaxby's all experienced traffic boosts in the weeks following the Popeyes sandwich launch. All four restaurants had 9.8 million visitors during the weekend the Popeyes sandwich sold out.
In December, McDonald's tested two chicken sandwiches in Houston and Knoxville, Tennessee. The company's franchisees have also urged corporate to create a chicken sandwich that can compete with Chick-fil-A's menu offerings. While the new breakfast offerings mirror Chick-fil-A's breakfast sandwich, it won't be easy to match the fervor surrounding Chick-fil-A's brand.
Diners feel more brand intimacy toward the chain than any other fast food company, and its rapid growth secured it the No. 3 spot of the top U.S. restaurant chains this year, according to Nation's Restaurant News.
Still, McDonald's and Wendy's new chicken products could leverage the American diner's growing interest in chicken and spark more interest around the chains. The question is for how long. It's unclear whether the chicken sandwich wars mark a permanent shift toward poultry at QSR, or if it will be a flash in the pan. If these new products do erode some of Chick-fil-A's market share, there may be new opportunities for non-chicken chains to drive fresh growth. The ongoing performance of Popeyes' sandwich could serve as a litmus test for the strength of diner demand.