Monthly Menu Check: Analyst Breaks Down QSR Trends

Quick-service restaurants focused on value-driven price points and more healthful menu items in January, according to a Monthly Menu Check report from Brad Ludington, an analyst from KeyBanc Capital Markets.

A number of chains priced menu items in the $1–$2 range, Ludington said in his report, which will be featured monthly on Sonic offered new Chili Cheese items for $1.99, while Burger King and Tim Hortons used that same price point for its bacon and cheddar BK Toppers and Burger and Egg White Breakfast Sandwich, respectively.

Dunkin' Donuts went even lower, bringing back its Pancake Bites for $1.59. Taco Bell's beefy crunch burrito and Wendy's cheeseburger deluxe each sold for $1.

Restaurants in the quick-service segment also used January to focus on improving current menu items. Jack in the Box and Wendy's each promoted improvements to their burgers, while Burger King continued to push its new fries, which debuted in December.

"While we expect the promotional environment for restaurants will remain competitive through at least [the first half of 2012], we believe companies that work to find creative ways to drive traffic without relying too heavily on discounts and low price-point options in the coming months will be best positioned for earnings growth in 2012," Ludington said in the report.

Case in point, several chains also used the first month of the new year to introduce more healthful menu items, including McDonald's, which promoted breakfast items containing 300 or fewer calories.


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