McDonald’s changes burgers, rolls out fresh beef patties

McDonald’s is turning up the heat on rivals, one fresh burger at a time.

The fast food giant announced Tuesday it’s serving fresh beef in all Quarter Pounders and other Signature Crafted Recipe burgers at about 3,500 restaurants in select markets, with other locations expected to roll out the new changes at U.S. locations by early May.

It said the fresh beef quarter-pound burgers, which were announced last March, are now available in the Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh and Salt Lake City markets. McDonald’s will add the fresh burgers to Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and other areas over the course of the next month.

“The switch to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers is the most significant change to our system and restaurant operations since All Day Breakfast,” McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski said in a statement.

The move comes as McDonald’s aims to keep up with its competitors in the fast food market such as Shake Shack Inc., West Coast-based In-N-Out, Burger King and Wendy’s, which has prided itself on using fresh beef since its inception in 1969.

Kitchen crews and suppliers will need to change their operations, and franchisees were concerned about how the transition to made-to-order burgers would impact service time, Reuters reported.

“Our suppliers have invested about $60 million updating their supply chain to be able to make this conversion from frozen to fresh,” Kempczinski told reporters, and added that “If it slows down the drive-through, that’s the critical part of our business. And so we just had to spend a lot of time really making sure that as we were cooking only when someone ordered, we’d figured out a way to do it that wasn’t going to slow down service time.”

McDonald’s also added a premium sandwich to its menu on Tuesday called the Garlic White Cheddar, which is made with a quarter-pound burger or chicken, and includes creamy garlic aioli, crispy garlic chips and white cheddar cheese. Other signature crafted sandwiches are expected to debut later this year, the company said.

The company’s shares were up fractionally in pre-market trade, and have fallen nearly 13% since the beginning of the year.