The fast food breakfast battle for customers is about to get a whole lot sweeter.
McDonald’s is reportedly adding doughnut sticks to its menu next month for a limited time, marking the second new menu item the fast food giant has introduced on its breakfast menu in recent months as it seeks to regain some of the market share it has lost in the mornings.
“Breakfast has been one of the biggest areas of growth for fast-food chains over the past few years, so competition is stiff,” said Whitney Filloon, senior associate editor at Eater.
While there hasn’t been a public taste test — yet — the fast food giant’s doughnut sticks look similar to the popular Donut Fries that Dunkin’ Donuts introduced last year. The deep fried strips of dough will be "light and crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside,” according to leaked documents obtained by Business Insider. McDonald’s plans to sell six of the doughnut sticks and a coffee for $1.99. They’ll be sold separately in a pack of six for $1.29 or one dozen for $2.39.
McDonalds’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but during an earnings call last October, McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook hinted there would be big additions to the breakfast menu. He told investors that he wants the company to “re-energize” and “do better at breakfast.”
"We're still losing a little share," Easterbrook said. "It's very competitive out there at breakfast."
For 15 years, McDonald’s has stuck with its classic breakfast menu items, including Egg McMuffins, hash browns and hotcakes. The last major new breakfast item McDonald’s debuted was the McGriddle, in 2003.
In November, McDonald’s took note of diners’ menu hacks, such as ordering two sandwiches and combining their parts to create its triple stacks. The towering sandwiches include two sausage patties, two slices of melted cheese, eggs and bacon, all served on the diner’s choice of an English muffin, griddle cakes or a biscuit.
While McDonald’s was a pioneer of the fast food breakfast, the company has lost market share to competitors in recent years. Easterbrook said there aren’t any “tailwinds” in traffic and that the fight for market share comes down to what’s on the menu.
“McDonald’s has long been the reigning champ of drive-thru breakfasts," said Filloon. "But despite only introducing its breakfast menu five years ago, Taco Bell has given them a run for their money with super-low prices and creative menu items like waffle tacos."
McDonald’s also faces stiff competition from Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, who offer a mix of breakfast items to cater to sweet and savory tastes and tend to have more of a cult following by coffee connoisseurs.
Last quarter, Starbucks reported an overall 4 percent spike in sales. Starbucks reported revenue of $6.3 billion — up 10.6 percent from the same time period.
Dunkin' Donuts took the news of McDonald’s doughy strips in its stride.
“We’re not surprised to see competitors imitate our success with Donut Fries, given their popularity with customers,” a company spokeswoman said.