McDonald’s CEO: Lower menu prices may be on the way

McDonald’s may soon tweak its menu with a focus on “affordability,” the company’s CEO has hinted.

During an earnings press conference on Monday, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said sales in the latest quarter took a negative turn, thanks to higher menu prices.

“I think what you’ll see in 2024 is probably a greater focus on what I would describe as convenience,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said on an earnings call Monday.

The burger giant saw its first decline in quarterly sales internationally in nearly four years during the fourth quarter of 2023 as conflict in the Middle East affected its international sales growth, something McDonald’s says will continue to impact revenue in the first quarter of 2024 and potentially in the second quarter.

Related: McDonald’s will completely change its burgers in 2024

Global same-store sales grew 3.4% quarter-over-quarter, compared to analyst estimates of 4.7% growth.

The chain’s U.S. business also weakened as trends indicated lower-income customers were choosing cheaper menu items or ordering less overall, with U.S. sales rising just 4.3% quarter-over-quarter versus at an estimated increase of 4.4%.

“Eating at home has become more convenient,” Kempczinski said on the call. “The battleground is certainly with that low-income consumer.”

Kempczinski didn’t specify what the new steps toward “affordability” would be, but the company has been raising menu prices for years. In a third-quarter 2023 earnings call, McDonald’s Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden admitted that the chain expects to see menu prices increase 10% by the end of 2023.

This is up from a separate 10% menu price increase from 2022 to 2023.

An estimated 93% of McDonald’s 38,000 locations are franchised, meaning franchisees can set prices based on store location and demand.

Related: McDonald’s in Connecticut goes viral for astronomical prices

In July 2023, a McDonald’s rest stop in affluent Darien, Connecticut, went viral after a visitor found the menu prices to be abnormally expensive, including a 10-piece McNugget order for $18.29 and a McCrispy sandwich for $17.99.

As of Monday afternoon, McDonald’s was up just over 6.7% for a year.

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