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.
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.
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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