CHICAGO — McDonald’s is thinking global but acting local.
The world’s biggest restaurant chain, hoping to appeal to wider swaths of Americans, is working to offer more locally relevant fare, such as pulled-pork sandwiches in Indiana, bacon and white-cheddar Egg McMuffins in Chicago and cranberry-orange muffins in the Midwest. These items aren’t available on the national U.S. menu.
McDonald’s has been facing more pressure from growing fast-casual chains, as well as smaller fast-food rivals that are more nimble with their menus. Burger King recently sold a teriyaki chicken sandwich, while Wendy’s Co. is advertising a strawberry salad.
McDonald’s, which promoted Steve Easterbrook to chief executive officer in March, is betting on more appealing fare to turn around its flagging U.S. business. Sales at domestic stores open at least 13 months have dropped for six straight quarters as consumers defect to other restaurants. McDonald’s stock fell 5.6 percent in the past year through Tuesday, compared with a 5.2 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
“They have to keep coming up with ways to drive new traffic,” said Sara Senatore, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “A broader product assortment, or one that’s more tailored locally, is probably going to attract more people.”
In the past year, McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. have sold less-characteristic fare, including mini bundt cakes, grits, chorizo burritos and a variety of muffin flavors. Sometimes, thousands of locations sell the regional offerings, and other times the count is less than 100.