ANGUS beef now comprises 10-13 percent of all burgers sold at fast food outlet McDonald’s, with further growing the ‘Angus brand’ touted as the company’s next challenge.
Angus burgers are the key premium ingredient on the menu served daily to 1.7 million consumers across 955 McDonald’s restaurants in Australia.
McDonald’s supply chain service director Tracey Monaghan used the Angus Australia national conference on Friday to appeal directly to beef producers for their help to grow the program.
“What is the next premium beef burger we can deliver to our customers? – it’s early days, but we are finding from our consumer research that the Angus brand continues to resonate with consumers,’’ Ms Monaghan said.
“Building on that, we’ve got to look more broadly at what our customers want. Beyond where the food comes from, they are also interested in how we treat the environment, animals and people,” she said.
“That is something we want to work with (beef producers) moving forward, and how we partner with producers to actually tell that story to our consumers.”
“It’s about how we get better at telling those stories to help us move into the future and grow our collective businesses.’’
Speaking at the Angus conference held at Albury on May 20, Ms Monaghan outlined how the company had worked with Angus Australia since 2007 on the Angus burger range.
She said traceability and verification of the breed content was essential.
This was accompanied by a significant investment in the restaurants with new grills for cooking capacity and restraints, and staff training across an 18-month period.
“We had to continue to re-invest in the Angus brand to remind our customers that we have these premium offerings available, and to give them something new to come back to at McDonald’s,’’ she said.
“Last year we re-launched the Classic Angus and a twist on the Classic flavours to remind our customers to reappraise our brand. We also included the Angus brand in the most disruptive change in our restaurants in well over a decade.”
“We wanted our customers who felt McDonald’s wasn’t so relevant to take another look.’’
Restaurants were renovated, more than 40 different choices of ingredients were offered, with burgers served on cutting-boards and fries in baskets rather than traditional packaging.
Short video documentaries featuring beef producers were used to build a broader conversation of where food comes from.
McDonald’s also answered 26,000 questions online about the origins of their ingredients.
“The most popular questions are in relation to beef – where the beef come from, aspects to do with animal welfare, and whether we use preservatives, artificial colours or additives in the beef,’’ Ms Monaghan said.
“There is a huge amount of interest – customers are hungry to know about this information, and we want to continue to have that conversation, and we need your help to do that.
“We have to keep moving, and the speed of which we make changes, has to increase.”
Ms Monaghan said it took McDonald’s more than 18 months to launch the original Angus range, but that ‘time to market’ did not wash in today’s world.
“While we only launched the Create Your Taste range last year, we are now looking for what’s next,’’ she said.
Ms Monaghan said McDonald’s had no plans to simply match competitor claims.
Hungry Jacks announced in February, for example, that it would use only hormonal growth promotant-free beef.
“We trust the farming community to follow regulations and we believe we have a good quality food supply, and we have no plans to make any moves in that same direction,’’ Ms Monaghan said.
“We have worked with Angus Australia to develop a verification program using a National Vendor Declaration, and work with Certified Australian Angus Beef to ensure the cattle are indeed Angus.’’