Fast food wing idea fails to take flight

March 31st, 2014

Sometimes even the big guys get it wrong.

Take McDonald’s and its idea to add wings to the menu. Apparently the product managers at the giant food chain outkicked their coverage on this one.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, McDonald’s is waving the white flag on the chicken wing market, promoting its Mighty Wings at a discount price “until supply runs out,” the article said.

The discount is currently at 40 percent as Mickey D’s previously advertised the wings at $1 apiece and has pulled back to a paltry poultry price of .60 cents per wing.

When the campaign began, McDonald’s bought 50 million pounds of wings. That is a hefty investment. Why was the hamburger giant getting into the business of wings?

It is all about market share. How do you grab a hold of and hold on to that fickle fast-food customer? Fast food is about convenience first, with quality, health, and selection coming in as afterthoughts. But if you can get past the quality and health ramifications, it is a good bet you are going for selection.

Dominoes and Pizza Hut started adding wings to their delivery packages. Wendy’s offers a “spicy chicken” which traditional wing lovers might substitute for a wing craving. And, of course, there is KFC.

All of these fast food joints have a share of the market. McDonald’s wants to tap into that share. So they offered up their own version of bone-in, deep-fried wings.

So what went wrong?

Maybe the McDonald’s customer doesn’t want wings. Maybe the typically wing eater is looking for more of an authentic, multi-sauce option than McD’s is willing to offer.

Maybe the wings just weren’t that good.

I know we’ve talked about McDonald’s before, but I want to reiterate that I am not against the fast-food chain. Even as the operator of South Shore Meats, New England’s premier wholesale portion control meat manufacturing facility, I will admit to being seen at the Golden Arches drive-thru.

Either way, there were reportedly 10 million pounds from that original order left over at the end of 2013.

Analysts are saying the company will either break even or take a slight loss on the product. 

Carlo Crocetti

South Shore Meats

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