Industry News | March 30, 2017 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

McDonald's Next Big Change: Fresh Beef Quarter Pounders

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The word “change” has surrounded McDonald’s lately. From mobile ordering to increased delivery, the fast food leader has promised significant innovations in the coming months. On Thursday, it delivered another “part of a continuing food journey.” By mid-2018, all Quarter Pounder burgers at the majority of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants will be made with fresh beef, prepared to order.

“Over the past two years, we’ve made a series of bold, tangible changes for our customers,” says McDonald’s president and chief executive officer Steve Easterbrook, in a statement. “Serving All-Day Breakfast, moving to cage-free eggs, and testing delivery are all proof of our commitment to build a better McDonald’s. And we are committed to transforming more aspects of our business, including offering a more modern and enjoyable dining experience, adding new levels of convenience and technology, and making more positive changes to the food we serve.”

All McDonald’s burgers use 100 percent pure beef with absolutely no fillers, additives or preservatives, the company added.

The move to fresh beef started in 14 Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants last spring before expanding to 77 Oklahoma units in November. It then grew to 325 of McDonald’s Dallas-area restaurants in March. This included the Quarter Pounder with cheese, the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, the Bacon Clubhouse Burger, and the Quarter Pounder Deluxe.

“We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees and we’re proud to have been part of a test that is creating a watershed moment for McDonald’s,” says McDonald’s Dallas/Fort Worth franchisee Joe Jasper in a release.  “This test was driven by the franchisees, our region and insights from what our customers are asking for when they visit McDonald’s.”

McDonald’s called Thursday’s announcement another “customer-led” initiative.

“Today’s announcement is part of a continuing food journey for McDonald’s,” says McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski.  “Over the last two years, we have accelerated the pace of change around how we source and serve our food. Delivering fresh beef that’s prepared when our customers order their food is just another example of how we are raising the bar. We’re just getting started, and can’t wait to show you what’s next.”

In 2015, McDonald’s introduced All-Day Breakfast and committed to sourcing cage-free eggs by 2025. Last year, it removed artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, and eliminated high fructose corn syrup from the buns used on Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Filet-O-Fish, and McChickens.

One of the concerns for McDonald’s in its move to fresh, not frozen was the sourcing angle. That kind of change at more than 14,000 units would undeniably shake up the supply chain.

“This represents a strong partnership between McDonald’s, Lopez Foods and their other beef suppliers to support this initiative and deliver McDonald’s quality standards,” says Ed Sanchez, president and chief executive officer of Lopez Foods.  “It was exciting to be part of the test and we look forward to bringing fresh beef to more McDonald’s customers in 2018.”