McDonald’s Says “Yes” to Dutch Stroopwafel for U.S. Menus, But “No” to Malaysian BBQ Fries
Americans dining at McDonald’s may soon be fancying a Stroopwafel McFlurry— the Dutch caramel waffle cookies mixed with vanilla ice cream. Or, they might crave Australian cheesy bacon fries, a Canadian tomato and mozzarella chicken sandwich and Spanish Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger.
When asked for confirmation about the international fare set for this summer, a McDonald’s spokesperson replied to Fortune with a metaphorical wink via email: “Geen commentaar,” or no comment in the Stroopwafel’s mother tongue.
McDonald’s menu was already in flux before news of the international additions surfaced in Business Insider.
Last week, the fast food giant announced on its website that it’s eliminating Signature Crafted sandwiches, for which customers had their choice of fresh meat, buns, and toppings. In their place, McDonald’s is creating a lineup of fresh-meat Quarter Pounder burgers.
The menu deletions and substitutions don’t surprise analyst Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail and founder of the market research firm Conlumino.
“One of the issues McDonald’s has faced is the need to balance menu innovation with simplicity,” Saunders told Fortune via email. “While consumers want some new and exciting things added to menus, franchisees dislike too much menu complexity as it adds to costs, takes more time and resources to service, and erodes margins.”
And he doesn’t think the Signature line—which offered toppings such as Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon, and Maple Bacon Dijon—were innovative enough to make customers excited.
“Interestingly, the new international menu items tick more of those boxes. While they are fairly tame innovations—which is likely necessary to appeal to the tastes of McDonald’s customers—they are more exciting and differentiated from existing products,” Saunders said. “As a result, McDonald’s will be hoping to drive more traffic into restaurants, possibly through increasing the frequency of purchases.”
Before deciding on its new global menu fare in the U.S., McDonald’s tested several options to see what stirred sales.
Last year at its Chicago headquarters restaurant, the Australian cheese and bacon fries sold out within hours. Likewise, McDonald’s customers greeted the Stroopwafel McFlurry and Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger in 50 locations across South Florida.
It appears everything the restaurant tried didn’t make the final cut— including the South Florida-tested BBQ McShaker Fries from Malaysia, or the Chicago-tested McSpicy chicken sandwich from Hong Kong.
“But this goes beyond simply trying to boost sales volumes,” Saunders said. “It’s also about creating interest in McDonald’s, creating a buzz around the menu and items, and capturing attention in a very crowded fast-food marketplace.”