McDonald's achieves its iconic menu consistency using three methods:
- standardized operations
- continuous training
- trusted supplier relationships
This week, the Golden Arches announced alterations to its burgers intended to accentuate their flavor. Additional Big Mac sauce and longer cook times to further melt the cheese are fairly simple procedural changes. Smaller batches of 10-to-1 patties on the grill will help ensure more consistent sears while mixing in white onions on the grill is sure to induce caramelization.
McFranchisee (@mcfranchisee on Twitter) shared they're “excited for the big change of onions going on the beef while on the grill”.
One improvement that may prove more complex is the promise of "new, softer buns." CH Guenther & Sons distributes hamburger buns and english muffins to over 3,500 McDonald's restaurants. New Horizons Bakery has been a reliable supplier of baked goods used in Quarter Pounders and Egg McMuffins for decades.
The question is: does new buns mean new business partners? That's a more difficult fry to swallow for franchisees who have been struggling to source core menu items since the pandemic disrupted supply chains worldwide. As operators have already had to raise prices to help cover the resulting inflation, the financial benefit of long-term supplier relationships is more important than ever.
The burger chain went through a similar shift in 2021 when it added the Crispy Chicken sandwich to offer customers an upgraded version of the McChicken to compete with the larger filets offered at Chick-Fil-A and Popeye's. #crispyjuicytender became a rallying cry for the brand's newest sandwich. Corporate menu innovation employees and franchisee leaderships taste-tested dozens of breasts and buns to find the right combination at the right price point.
With restaurants all over the world working to provide the same sandwich experience, finding regional suppliers who can match each other's flavors and finances is crucial. 14,000 restaurants in the United States will need to live up to this better bun guarantee. This creates serious competition in the quick service restaurant supply market.
When it comes to cases of buns, patties (fresh and frozen), potatoes, and soda syrup, there is no bigger buyer than McDonald’s. Golden State Foods has supplied produce, meat, beverage/dessert products to 3,900 McDonald’s restaurants across the country for 65 years.
In 2018, GSF sold 9 of their top-performing manufacturing centers to Martin Brower, another major supplier of the Golden Arches. Located in City of Industry, Martin Brower has distribution centers solely dedicated to providing paper goods and equipment to McDonald’s restaurants in addition to a wide variety of food and beverages products.
Unlike traditional food service disturbers, McDonald's "distributors only charge operators a per case charge to get it to you, not a mark up” according to McFranchisee.
McDonald's operators nationally use different bakeries, but they all use the same recipe for the buns. So according to McFranchisee, "Every bun should taste the same, no matter which bakery an operators may purchase it from".
"Very few ingridetns are different regionally, it's very rare" One example according to McFranchisee is that southern states have "Southern Sweet Tea. that has more sugar".
Large food service chains rely on fewer suppliers to meet their enormous orders. Buying frozen product in bulk enables quick-service restaurants to keep customers’ favorite ingredients stocked and available. McDonald's famous "three-legged stool" business model -
- emphasizes the importance of building a strong supply chain rooted in trust with reliable, large scale farms and ranches.