McDonald's Chicken Wings Being Put To Test; Deep Fried Wings To Be Served in Chicago This Week

A McDonald's staff member serves soft drinks at their fast food restaurant in downtown Milan October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

After successfully launching its new product in Atlanta last year, McDonald's is testing its "Mighty Wings" in Chicago this week.

The wings are available in three, five or 10 piece combinations starting at $3, according to Lynne Collier, an analyst with Sterne Agee.

The test is confirmed to start in Chicago this week, but they have no plans yet to expand it to other cities. Also, the creamy ranch sauce is still the default dipping sauce, with no other options available according to the Huffington Post.

It's very common for fast-food chains to test items in certain markets before taking them national, but to add chicken wings to the menu can be tricky.

The reason being is that there has been an increase in the number of restaurants offering them, according to David Harvey, a specialist in poultry and eggs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last month, the prices of wings in the wholesale market in the Northeast were up 26 percent compared to December 2011.

And an increase in demand would certainly pressure prices up across the industry.

Thus, the world's biggest hamburger chain would rather offer the food for a limited time; still, offering such specialty even for a limited time would depend on the price McDonald's would have to pay for the wings, said Collier, the analyst with Sterne Agee.

Other challenges may arise. According to Richard Adams, a former McDonald's franchisee, menu items only work if they can be eaten easily in the car, noting that the drive-thru is responsible for the majority of McDonald's sales.

McDonald's has offered wings other times though, as they were first presented in 1990, according to the National Chicken Council, while other fast-food chains followed suit.

The new item comes as a result of competition between McDonald's and its rivals Burger King and Wendy's, who are now trying and changing both their images and menus.

Last spring, it was Burger King's turn to launch a huge menu expansion, including a variety of items such as snack wraps, fruit smoothies and specialty coffee drinks. Last week, the chain introduced chicken nuggets that really resemble McNuggets, as a replacement of its old chicken tenders.

On top of that, McDonald's now faces competition from other chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co., with their higher-quality food for slightly higher prices. In October, McDonald's announced a drop in its sales for the first time in nearly a decade. They were able to recover in November after saying they would start to lure price-conscious diners with its Dollar Menu.



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