KFC, McDonald’s Win With Chicken Sandwiches

The popularity of the menu items is pressuring poultry supplies.

April 30, 2021

Chicken Sandwich

CHICAGO—In February, both McDonald’s and KFC jumped into the chicken sandwich wars with their own chicken sandwich offerings, boosting sales at each chain and squeezing poultry supplies, CNBC reports. Yum! Brands reported that KFC’s sandwich has been gobbled up by more than twofold the numbers of previous iterations, while McDonald’s franchisees registered an average of 262 chicken sandwiches per store daily.

The two QSRs entered the chicken sandwich arena later than other chains. Yum! CEO David Gibbs indicated that initial data showed customers coming back to KFC more often to purchase the sandwich.

“In fact, as we’ve entered [the second quarter], demand for the new sandwich has been so strong that, coupled with general tightening of domestic chicken supply, our main challenge has been keeping up with that demand,” Gibbs said.

McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich has also scored high with customers. A third of those franchisers surveyed said the sandwich has been more popular than expected, according to Kalinowski Equity Research’s quarterly survey of operators.

KFC’s and McDonald’s hewed to the tried-and-true ingredients used by Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, which include a breaded filet, pickles and a brioche bun. The differences in texture and flavor come with breading and frying methods. The success of these sandwiches may be tightening the chicken supply as they were last year, especially as more restaurant chains are putting chicken sandwiches on the board.

For more on how convenience stores are competing with this menu item, read “Chicken Sandwich Wars” in the May 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.