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McDonald’s says new Crispy Chicken Sandwich will debut in 2021

The burger giant tells USA Today it will test a new plant-based sandwich dubbed McPlant in some markets around the world next year.

A sign is displayed outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Pittsburgh.
With new choices like spicy chicken nuggets and a meal deal promotion with rapper Travis Scott, McDonald’s exceeded most projections for the quarter. 
AP file

McDonald’s could be renewing two food fights in 2021 — the Chicken Sandwich War and the meatless burger battle.

McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger said U.S. restaurants would introduce the new Crispy Chicken Sandwich in 2021. The premium chicken sandwich was tested in Houston, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee in late 2019 through late January.

“It’s a simple build relevant for our US customer base — with chicken, a potato roll, crinkle-cut pickles, and butter. It’s extremely craveable. I love it,” Erlinger said. “More importantly, our customers loved it in test.”

The Chicken Sandwich Sandwich War of 2019 began after Popeyes’ debut of its New Orleans-style fried chicken on a bun when the chain started a viral Twitter feud with Chick-fil-A and other restaurants.

McDonald’s U.S. franchise owners, part of the National Owners Association, said in July 2019, prior to Popeyes sandwich being released that a new premium chicken sandwich should be McDonald’s top priority.

The global fast-food giant shared exclusively with USA TODAY Monday it has developed a new plant-based platform dubbed McPlant with tests of the burger expected in some markets around the world next year.

McDonald’s says it will test market the new McPlant meatless burger next year.
McDonald’s says it will test market the new McPlant meatless burger next year.
McDonald’s Corporation

“McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” Ian Borden, McDonald’s international president, said at the investor meeting. “In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products including burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches.”

McDonald’s U.S. sales roared back in the third quarter on new menu items and attention-grabbing celebrity collaborations.

With new choices like spicy chicken nuggets and a meal deal promotion with rapper Travis Scott, McDonald’s exceeded most projections for the quarter.

It wasn’t the same story outside of the U.S., where sales between July and September, failed to match last year’s levels, and McDonald’s warned that a resurgence of coronavirus cases in key markets like France, Germany and the United Kingdom could force dining room closures and other restrictions.

Infections in the U.S. have now begun to surge as well.

Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker reported more than 50.2 million COVID-19 cases globally as of Sunday. The U.S., with about 4% of the world’s population, represents almost a fifth of all reported cases.

McDonald’s same-store sales — or sales at locations open at least a year — jumped 4.6% in the U.S. Customer traffic fell, but when diners came, they spent more on larger group orders. Dinner was particularly strong, McDonald’s said, but other times of day were elevated as well.

The meal promotion with Scott, introduced in September, was the first time McDonald’s featured a celebrity’s name on its menu since a Michael Jordan-branded meal deal in 1992. For $6, customers could order Scott’s favorite meal: a Quarter Pounder, fries and a Sprite. Scott’s Cactus Jack brand also designed clothes for McDonald’s employees.

McDonald’s also got a lift from the September introduction of spicy McNuggets. It was the first time the company had introduced a new style since McNuggets debuted in 1983.

Globally, McDonald’s same-store sales fell 2.2%, with sales increases in Japan and Australia offset by declines in China, Europe and Latin America. Still, that was significantly better than the 24% drop the company saw in the second quarter.

Third quarter net income rose 10% to $1.8 billion. Earnings, adjusted for one-time items, were $2.22 per share.

That surpassed Wall Street’s expectations of $1.91 per share, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue fell 2% to $5.4 billion. That was in line with expectations.