A revamp of McDonald’s hamburgers is set to go global after a hugely successful trial run in Australia.
The Wall Street Journal has revealed that from 2024 the fast food giant’s burgers across the US will match those recently introduced in Australia.
Australia has been used as a testbed for McDonald’s previously with McCafe launched locally before going worldwide.
The Australian market has similarities to the US but is sufficiently isolated that it can trial new initiatives and tweak them before taking them wider.
Seven years in development, the new recipe will see burgers that are moister, the “special sauce” more abundant, the cheese meltier, lettuce and onions fresher and the all-important bun now a shinier and softer brioche.
“We can do it quick, fast and safe, but it doesn’t necessarily taste great. So, we want to incorporate quality into where we’re at,” Chris Young, McDonald’s senior director of global menu strategy, told the paper.
Macca’s is making the change as the market gets more competitive with the likes of Grill’d, Five Guys and Wendy’s – which is soon to debut in Australia – clamouring for the attention of fast food fans with the promise of better burgers.
While the golden arches’ sales are rising in the US, it remains nervous about its home market. A recent survey found it was only the 13th most desirable chain for US customers craving a hamburger. Burger King – which operates as Hungry Jack’s in Australia – came second in the poll.
But there’s no such worries in Australia. The division of McDonald’s which includes Australia saw sales rise 16.7 per cent in the last quarter, around double that of the US.
Part of that is down to Macca’s testing its new burger recipe in Australia.
It’s started rolling out the new burgers in 2018 and they went nationwide in Australia by 2019.
In October, McDonald’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski said its burger sales in Australia has reached an highest after it revamped its recipe, dubbed the “Best Burger” strategy.
“Great-tasting burger perceptions continue to grow,” Mr Kempczinski.
Big changes to burgers
The changes to US burgers, which will follow what happened in Australia, are manifold.
First there are the burgers themselves. While the recipe will be the same they will now be cooked six at a time rather than eight. Decreasing the number of patties on the grill made for more consistent cooking, the company’s aid.
Additionally, they also won’t be pressed too hard on the grill to better preserve the juices.
There will now be more special sauce – a combination of tomato sauce and mayo- on each burger.
The cheese slices will be taken out of the fridge earlier so they don’t go onto the patties cold. This should help them melt more easily.
The lettuce and pickles will also be housed in smaller containers. It might seem like a small change but Macca’s bosses reckons it means they will stay fresher and crisper as staff will have to go to the fridge more often to restock them.
The onions will now be placed on the burgers as the patties cook so they’re hot when you bite into them.
This is actually a throwback to the 1980s when McDonald’s cooked the onions on burgers. But for decades it left them uncooked to simplify the process.
The biggest change will be to the buns. They will be entirely new and will now be a soft, buttery brioche which holds heat better.
McDonald’s chef Chad Schafer told The Wall Street Journal the pimped up patties we’re far superior.
“It’s hotter, it looks meltier. Look at how my fingers sink into the bun. Smell it and you smell a big difference.”
But Mr Schafer said the same couldn’t be said for the current US variety.
“This one, it’s kind of dry. It cracks. And this is the best-case example at headquarters.”
McDonald’s outlets on the US west coast have already begun rolling out the new burgers. They should be in all 13,500 US Macca’s by early next year.
But while the chain may have seen success with its pioneering Australia burgers, it has a major rival in its rear view mirror.
Down Under, it will team up with US-based Flynn Restaurant Group, the new owner of Pizza Hut.
Wendy’s International president Abigail Pringle described Australia is a “strategic market for long-term growth. We think that the Australian market could be hundreds of restaurants.”
Australia’s quick service market is expected to grow 32 per cent over the next five years to $8.7bn, according to Euromonitor data.