McDonald’s is testing several baked goods that are sold all day at New England restaurants, company spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling confirmed.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, the items include a cheese Danish, muffins, banana bread and a vanilla scone, and are being tested near Boston.
The test includes just over 600 locations, including franchised and company-owned restaurants in New England and Albany, N.Y., Yingling said.
Breakfast, which McDonald’s Corp. has said accounts for about 25 percent of sales, has been a big focus for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based quick-service chain’s menu development over the past few years. In the first quarter of 2011, McDonald’s introduced Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, and it rolled out the Breakfast Dollar Menu nationwide at the beginning of 2010.
The McCafé lineup of espresso beverages, Frappes and Real Fruit Smoothies has also been cited as a major sales driver since its introduction in May 2009.
McDonald’s had not returned a call for comment at press time.
Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Chicago-based Mintel, said breakfast baked goods should complement not only McDonald’s morning menu, but also its efforts to reimage its locations with a more upscale environment.
“These items aren’t traditional McDonald’s items, but they’re what you see at a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee, places that McDonald’s increasingly competes with,” he said. “It’s another layer to keep people from going to those stores. You may not always want a heavy protein-and-egg option, but a scone may be appropriate for a mid-morning snack.”
The other benefit is being able to serve the baked goods all day, and thus extend some breakfast sales beyond the morning hours, Giandelone said. While McDonald’s and most quick-service chains do not have the equipment to sell hot breakfast items, like Egg McMuffins, all day, they could execute all-day baked-good sales, as it already is starting to do with Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and Cinnamon Melts, he said.
“Certainly, there is that logistical challenge where you only have so much grill space and fryer capacity, which have to turn over at 10:30 a.m.,” he said. “It’s fairly easy to do [baked goods] in a way that stays separate in the back-of-the-house.”
Wendy’s also sells its baked goods all day in its breakfast daypart test, even though breakfast sandwiches are not sold past 10:30 a.m.
McDonald’s also reportedly will make changes to its Dollar Menu at the end of March, removing the small order of French fries and small soft drink, replacing those items with cookies and small ice cream cones. In addition, a new “Extra Value Menu” grouping on the chain’s signage will be branded to call attention to menu items priced between the Dollar Menu and Extra Value Meals.
Giandelone said further moves to balance out menus are likely as McDonald’s continues to innovate while trying not to let “menu expansion get out of control.”
“They took the small fry and small drink off the Dollar Menu, which makes the franchisees happy, and putting a baked good like a cookie on there calls those items out more,” he said. “I don’t know how much people really know that McDonald’s does items like this.”
McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 33,000 restaurants worldwide, including more than 14,000 in the United States.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from McDonald's.