McDonalds made the change to appeal to consumers' growing interest in the transparency of the ingredients. Today's buyers want to know where the food comes from, says Marion Gross, director of the company's North American supply chain, to CNN Business.
"Our customers are changing at a super fast pace," he said. "As a result, we must also change." The company is also committed to reducing the use of antibiotics in the meat and switching to "eggs without cages".
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McDonald's sale of the new quarter-pound burger was particularly strong in May 2018, when it was introduced, thanks in part to marketing efforts. Recently, the company included fresh meat cans in its bid of two for $ 5 for the first time. The campaign worked well, said CFO Kevin Ozan in a conversation from analysts who analyzed the results for the first quarter.
Moving from frozen meat to fresh meat was a challenge.
"It was a great transformation that was necessary" to make the change, Gross said. Suppliers needed new packaging equipment and several refrigerators, among other things to ensure that fresh meat was handled safely, he said. Distribution trucks needed the right temperature control system to properly transport the meat. And in McDonald's kitchen, employees need to implement new food safety practices.
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Generally, the change was one of the biggest and deepest movements we have been doing for a long time, Gross says. It is the biggest change in the supply chain the company has made since it began serving breakfast all day 2015, he noted.
He also lobbied the company's franchise, which had to pay for some of the changes, as well as the various refrigeration and storage systems.
Last year, the company had some friction with its franchise agreements. In October, the National Owners Association, a self-financed McDonald's franchise defense group, met for the first time discussing ways to work with McDonald's to improve sustainability. The company's aggressive remodeling plan, which includes the modernization of stores with digital menu boards and self-catering kiosks, has put pressure on franchisees, who also have problems when McDonalds adds new items to the menu or makes other changes.
Gross noted that the change was not "easy", but that the franchisees finally came on board because the fresh meat cans are better. "The franchisees became very believers," he said.
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McDonald's shared the news about the improvement of fresh meat sales, as it answers questions about whether it will introduce a plant-based protein can in the US menu
Several fast food chains, including Burger King, have added meat products to the menu because consumers show interest in the product. McDonalds has a vegan burger in Europe.