McDonald’s Removes Angus Burgers as it Tries to Reverse Declining Sales

McDonald’s is removing one high-profile "premium" item from the menu, possibly signaling that the trend toward higher-priced fast food is coming to a close.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Richard T. Nowitz / Corbis

McDonald's announced Thursday it was removing angus burgers from its menus.

For the last several years, fast food has gone “gourmet.” Specialty salads, premium wraps, and signature sandwiches and burgers have been added to menus in an attempt to better compete with so-called fast casual restaurants like Five Guys and Panera Bread. But McDonald’s is removing one high-profile “premium” item from the menu, possibly signaling that the trend toward higher-priced fast food is coming to a close.

On Thursday, McDonald’s announced that it would cut its one-third pound Angus burgers. One reason for dropping the item from the menu would seem to be the ever-rising price of beef, which hit record numbers this week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NBC News reported the price of beef is up 5% this year alone.

(MORE: Elizabeth Warren: Students Should Get the Same Rate as the Bankers)

More importantly, as McDonald’s has felt compelled to refocus efforts on its Dollar Menu to boost flagging sales, it’s gotten more difficult to convince customers that a single Angus burger is worth $4 or $5.

Richard Adams, a McDonald’s consultant, told the Associated Press that the Dollar Menu is to blame for the Angus’s demise because $1 snacks and sandwiches are such attractive options for consumers. “When you can get four or five burgers off the Dollar Menu, nobody’s going to buy the Angus burger,” Adams said. “The Dollar Menu has become a real problem for these chains.”

Adams said essentially the same thing to the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News last fall, when McDonald’s was launching a more robust selection of Dollar Menu items:

“Who would pay $4.79 for a sandwich when the two sandwiches on the Dollar Menu are perfectly good?” he said. “It’s just the math. The more you raise prices, the more you encourage people to buy off the Dollar Menu.”

(MORE: Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation)

And yet, because of troubling sales figures, McDonald’s has felt it’s necessary to stick with the crowd-pleasing Dollar Menu. In 2002, McDonald’s was in a similarly tough situation when it reported its first quarterly loss in almost 50 years. Back then, the restaurant’s strategy was to introduce more premium and nutritional foods to menus. In 2009, McDonald’s launched the Angus Burger, an item priced around $4 to $5. It was a stark departure from dollar (or less) hamburgers, but for a while it seemed nearly every chain had to offer a sandwich in the higher-priced “better burger” competition.

Burger King, Taco Bell, and others have also rolled out foods perceived as higher-quality in recent years. Meanwhile, so-called fast casual restaurants have been growing, and fast food wanted to take a bite out of chains like Five Guys, Panera Bread and Smashburger (all restaurants with higher-quality items but without table service). Thus entered the never-ending stream of “premium” this and Angus that.

Today, McDonald’s is going through its toughest financial stretch since 2002. Q1 sales were down 1% globally. While sales were down 1.2% in the U.S., they fell further overseas, especially in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa segments – where it dropped 3.3%.

While McDonald’s is discontinuing the pricey Angus burger, and it has also dropped Chicken Selects and the Fruit & Walnut Salad from the menu, the company isn’t discarding the idea of offering new items. It recently added Chicken McWraps (which did contribute to 0.7% higher U.S. sales in April) as well as a version of an Egg McMuffin with egg whites and a whole grain muffin. But getting rid of Angus (which, by the way, is not necessarily better than other types of beef and merely refers to the breed of cattle) and refocusing on value may force the competition to rethink whether premium is the way to go.

(MORE: Latest Unavoidable Fast Food Buzz Words: Crazy, Premium, Snacks)

While McDonald’s has reported four monthly global same-store sales declines since October, the rest of the fast food industry isn’t faring much better. According to the Wall Street Journal, the NPD Group – a firm that tracks the industry – is predicting a 1% sales decline across fast food this year.

23 comments
ihatefanboys
ihatefanboys

So sad. The angus burgers were awesome. The dollar menu may be affordable but the burgers are small. Went to Burger Kind the other day and got a Double Stacker figuring it was like a double Quarter Pounder and i got 2 patties the size of a regular hamburger, i was disappointed. I will never get off the dollar menu again because of that . 

vincemasseau
vincemasseau

Too bad -- I loved the Angus burger and didn't care about the price. Why?  Because it was actually a decent burger.  I found out about this today the hard way -- went to McD's and found out I coud only have the 1/4 pounder version of this.  It's just not the same as the Angus was. I can get a Whopper for $2.50, so next time I'm in the mood, I'll just go to Burger King.  Sorry McD, you blew it this time.

ty_buchanan
ty_buchanan

I live in Australia and it is the size of MacDonald's portions that is the problem.  Here a Big Mac is a big joke.  It is utterly tiny to what other take-aways offer.  You also get a child's toy bag containing six string-like chips.  For $4.95 you can get a meal with a desert in Humgry Jacks (Burger King).  MacDonalds has become ruthless on senior citizens.  Giving them a half teaspoon of instant coffer in hot water with no milk or sugar does not compare to Hungry Jacks cappuccino.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

The Angus burger sucked, it had barely any taste and what it had was not good.  It looked like a copy of a good burger with McDonalds Franken ingrediants.

ihatefanboys
ihatefanboys

@SukeMadiq The Angus burgers were awesome. Too bad there are so many cheap-os in the world. 

AndyClark
AndyClark

McD's and most multi-generational companies must somehow get around the tendency for kids to reject what their parents valued.  Based solely upon my observation as parent of high school kid with too many friends.... they don't view it as 'cool' and are happy to spend twice or three times more to eat the same thing elsewhere.  Try this Today:  Go to McD's.  Order their $1 Onion Burger or $1 McDouble.  TAKE THE DRY SIDE OF THE BUN OFF, feed it to the birds that are always around McD's waiting.  Add a packet of ketchup to the onion burger (imo).  No fries.  Water please, no ice no lid.  No bag.  That is an excellent lunch (imo but kid thinks i am a cheap p.o.s.)

AndyClark
AndyClark

Oh...and THAT is why their revenue is down.  Their customers are mothers with little kids and us cheap geezers.  Secret:  their coffee, when fresh, is the best there is and I am picky about that.  I realize coffee-snobs may scoff at that.  Go to a McD's.  Tell them you want really fresh coffee (in the afternoon at some locations it gets old or runs out so they are happy to make more).  See, places like Starbucks don't really sell brewed coffee...their revenue is in the 'shots drinks' and they tend to dilute the coffee to fit the crowd that likes the shots-drinks.  

MoveForward
MoveForward like.author.displayName 1 Like

The Angus burgers were never really good.  If they had been truly significantly better they would have succeeded but the value was never there.

gernblanston
gernblanston

One reason I never go to McDonalds?  About 60% of the time their ice cream machine is "broken" or "down for cleaning".  I like shakes and cones.  Wendy's & Sonic never tell me their machine is broken.

DuaneBidoux
DuaneBidoux like.author.displayName 1 Like

I just discovered this one hour ago.  I promptly drove away from the window very disappointed but not surprised.  I would have paid a higher price for the Swiss Angus.  It was the only reason I have visited McDonalds for a long time.

bjj1978
bjj1978

it doesn't surprise me to read so many other people who also think it's the only burger worth getting at McD.  I never, never ate at McD until I discovered the Angus burger.  On the business end, it seems a really stupid decision.   I, too, would not order anything else off their menu.   In a way I'm glad because I feel great about knowing I'm not going to be going to McDonalds .....at all  anymore.   A good, and healthy, alternative is the steak and cheese sub at subway.  Try it.  

sweetdigs
sweetdigs

Can't believe anybody eats fast food anymore.  So disgusting.  The reason nobody buys the "better" burgers that these places offer is because the people that would buy them have already been chased away from fast food long ago.

jefnvk
jefnvk

Fine, so long as they offer another burger with bacon.  Always been my biggest problem with McDonalds, a burger joint with no bacon cheeseburger until the Angus came along.


Anyways, Steak and Shake and Culvers have far better burgers, anyways

ajay96
ajay96

I work at mcdonalds ( 17 years old , only place i can really lol ) and we are introducing later , new quarter pounder burgers packed with things... Maybe by next week

rosecitymom
rosecitymom

I from not eating fast food pretty much ever to ordering once a week for the last month. My husband has been out of town for business and I have been running late recently (have two young children). The Angus burger was really the only item at McDonalds that I felt was real meat. I refuse to eat any other burger. When they told me they didn't have it anymore I told them I wasn't going to order anything. The guy said that you can just order a quarter pounder but it doesn't even taste like real meat. I waited 15 minutes to get out of that drive thru (it was busy) and haven't gone back since. First they were temporarily out of Angus then it was 86'd. But I am very thankful for it as I have no inclination to get anymore fast food. Thanks McDonalds! You won't get getting any more of my money =) As far as marketing goes, Richard Adams is an idiot. I have a feeling that people like me who wanted more of a quality burger will no longer have that option and see their sales decline from loss of those $8 customers.

papagiki
papagiki

OMG, McDonald's has their head stuck up the cows ass.  The only good thing about Mickey is the water coffee and the Angus burger.  The meat is real, the cheese is real and so are the mushrooms.  Just toss the bun and you have a great meal.

Now all that is left is the slop!


Jim


DuckBeach
DuckBeach

I liked the anus burgers.  Dang!

nullfactory
nullfactory

Clearly the economy is booming.

RobertMillette
RobertMillette like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@nullfactory   that it is.   Why would anyone go to eat the crap that McDonald's serves when they can get good food for a little bit more money at 5 guys or fuddruckers,   which is exactly what everyone has been doing.   I haven't been to a BK or McDonald's in months.  

hendie62
hendie62

never had a angus burger, never had the inclination to order one, I also never order off the dollar menu. I like their fish sandwhich and c'mon people they have some pretty good fries too. 

Urbane_Gorilla
Urbane_Gorilla like.author.displayName 1 Like

Nobody will convince me that McDonald's burgers are in any way related to meat. Nobody could make a hamburger taste like a soggy gummy tofu laced oatmeal the way McDonald's does. Who would pay for an "Angus Burger" that tastes like that anyway? More importantly, why would McDonald's purposely ruin Angus meat in the way they do? If it wasn't for the condiments disguising the food (sic), a person would never knowingly eat their burgers. In fact, I've had tofu burgers that taste more like meat than anything McD's sells...Try a blind taste test of a  Boca Burger, you'll see what I mean.