Burger King launches a new front in the fry wars

It's betting on a lower-calorie French fry to take health-conscious consumers away from McDonald's.

By Jonathan Berr Sep 24, 2013 1:04PM
Undated handout image from Burger King, showing the new “Satisfries” that the company says has 20 percent fewer calories than its regular fries (© Noel Barnhurst/Burger King/AP Photo)Burger King (BKW), which has trailed McDonald's (MCD) in the fast-food trenches for as long as most folks can remember, is betting that its new low-calorie French fries will give it an edge over its long-time nemesis.

Miami-based Burger King will offer its new Satisfries at no extra charge in kid's meals, while adults will pay an extra 20 cents to 30 cents for them. They're crinkle cut to distinguish them from the No. 3 burger chain's full-calorie alternatives.

Satsfries pack 150 calories, 30% less than McDonald's, and 7 grams of fat, 40% less than McD's, according to the The New York Times. Burger King spent two years developing the new fries with its supplier, and not surprisingly, it expects them to do well. 

"We know our guests are hungry for options that are better for them, but don't want to compromise on taste," Alex Macedo, president North America for Burger King Worldwide, said in a press release.

McDonald's has touted the quality of its fries, which it immodestly claims are "world famous," for years. Rivals such as Wendy's (WEN) have also tinkered with their fries. In 2010, the Dublin, Ohio, company introduced Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt. In response, Burger King unveiled its new thicker-cut fries, according to BurgerBusiness. McDonald's hasn't changed its recipe, although it cut the portion size for kids' Happy Meals.

Wendy's gamble has paid off. In 2011, a Consumer Reports French fries taste test gave the chain founded by the late Dave Thomas a "slight edge" over McDonald's. And consumers overall prefer Wendy's over McDonald's and Burger King, as I noted in April.

McDonald's, though, leads its rivals in the area where it counts the most -- money. QSR magazine notes that on a per-location basis, McDonald's earned $2.6 million in 2012 sales compared with $1.5 million for Wendy's and $1.2 million for Burger King.

French fries, however, appear to be losing their appeal as consumers demand healthier eating choices. BurgerBusiness cited a report from the Hudson Institute finding that sales of fries declined by about 2% at the five biggest chains between 2006 and 2011. Lower-calorie beverages are also outperforming their sweetened counterparts.

What fast-food fans are watching for now is whether McDonald's and Wendy's decide to offer their own lower-calorie fries.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr and at Berr's World.


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26Comments
Sep 24, 2013 1:40PM
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How can they be only 150 calories and have 70 grams of fat?!  Each gram of fat has 9 calories, thus it would have AT LEAST 630 calories per serving, not 150.  I hope you volunteer as a writer and not get paid for it.  Then again, most writers on the internet just copy and paste from other sources, not come up with an original story on their own.  Please review what you are writing before you post it to the world to make yourself look incompetent.
Sep 24, 2013 2:10PM
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Fewer calories?  Great.  Now I can order three bags instead of just one...
Sep 24, 2013 2:11PM
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It's obvious the 70 grams should read as 7 grams of fat. Be a little easy on the writer.
Sep 24, 2013 2:24PM
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burger king will never catch up. the fries they had ten years ago were so good but since then, it's like............haaaaaa no.
Sep 24, 2013 2:31PM
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No fat; No Taste;  The last french fries that were any good at the fast food were many years ago;  They all taste like hunks of nothing soaked in veg oil;  YUK YUK YUK and they want you to pay more for them  WHY??????
Sep 24, 2013 1:53PM
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No, no it's wrong...all wrong I tell ya!
Sep 24, 2013 1:38PM
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THE best thing about McD's are the fry's.
Sep 26, 2013 6:36PM
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DA DOUBLE A'S AT 3RD WORLD KING NEEDS TO STICK AND FOCUS ON THE AFRICAN'T AMERICAN'T MARKET, AND SERVE UP WATERMELON SHAKES, DEEP FRIED BOLONY BURGERS, AND COLLARD GREENS

 

SIGNED, PRESIDENTS HALF BLACK ALABAMA

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We will fix the typo.  Thanks for pointing out.
Sep 24, 2013 2:33PM
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Yes the article was not proofed  @ deep fried doughnuts have 70+ grams of fat and a BigMac has about  100 grms or better.It is 7. Besides, who really wants to consume a fat diet of 100 grma or more.When I'm 65 I'll start because I don't want to live to be 90.
Sep 24, 2013 2:30PM
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If it has 70 grams of fat, then that is NOT any type of french fry I'll be sticking into my mouth!

Author of this article: Please proofread before publishing to the public!
Sep 24, 2013 2:43PM
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And I am going to pay 20c more why - what planet are these people from and who do they think theya are fooling - these guys think they are in gourmets war foods - folks for the last 70 years its about the price and how fast can you get me out the door and in general is the food cooked, taste reasonable and adequate qty - really
Sep 24, 2013 2:10PM
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I wouldn't eat anything from any fast food joint . If you want to kill yourself , take up smoking .  
Sep 24, 2013 2:40PM
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There's nothing that Burger King can do to get me to go there again--even if they gave their food away.
Sep 24, 2013 2:25PM
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OMG! And Bjurger King tells us they are low-fat fires, because they beat the competition? Nice going Romney! Just another clever advertising ploy to get us to put dollars into your Cayman Islands untaxed bank vaults!
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