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McDonald’s bringing back the Chicken Big Mac shows the CEO was serious about a big change

August 22, 2022, 7:31 PM UTC

When you think of McDonald’s, you think of a few things. Fries, chicken nuggets, and of course the namesake Big Mac, with its bun-patty-bun-patty-bun structure. 

Get ready for a rethink, courtesy of McDonald’s locations across the pond.

Last week, the company revealed that it will debut a new version of the Big Mac in the U.S.—swapping out the beef patties for tempura-fried chicken. 

The Chicken Big Mac will be available for a limited time at select Miami-area locations, the company confirmed to Fortune. The U.S. trial run comes after the sandwich debuted in the U.K. earlier this year to rave reviews.

“Your love for the limited-edition Chicken Big Mac knew no bounds, and it’s sold out almost everywhere,” the McDonald’s U.K. Twitter account wrote in February, promising that it would soon return to the menu.

Now, the company hopes to find the same success in the U.S. 

“We’re always looking to give our fans more ways to enjoy the classic menu items they know and love,” McDonald’s wrote in a statement shared with Fortune. “While not everything we test makes it on our U.S. menus, we’ll use this time to gather feedback from both customers and restaurant crew as we consider opportunities to offer more delicious options in the future.”

Earlier this summer, the company announced that it was cutting a selection of menu items to increase efficiency in the face of a continued labor shortage affecting the service industry. Among the items taken off the menu in the U.S. were grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, and fruit parfaits.

The Chicken Big Mac could be the company’s latest effort to wade into expanding its menu once again with an eye on earnings. Beef and chicken have both seen prices increase over the past year as the U.S. grapples with record inflation, but chicken remains the cheaper protein. 

In July, the cost of beef products per pound ranged from about $5 for ground chuck and $10.50 for sirloin. Meanwhile, the most expensive category for chicken products, boneless breast, clocked in at just $4.60 per pound, with other categories like bone-in legs going for as little as $1.80, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With more customers opting for Chicken Big Macs over the original, that could translate to significant savings for the company in the long run.

On the Q2 earnings call on July 26, CEO Chris Kempczinski said “core menu chicken” is a focus for the company as it moves ahead. “That’s going to be a priority area,” he said. Kempczinski referenced several chicken products available in certain markets that he believes have potential for expansion in the future. Those products include the “McCrispy”—currently available in Canada, and the “McSpicy,” available in Southeast Asia.

In July, McDonald’s announced that its global sales had increased 9.7% in Q2 of 2022, jumping 3.7% in the U.S. 

While those numbers signal strong growth, they’re significantly smaller than its reported earnings from the same quarter one year ago. Global sales jumped 40.5% in Q2 2021 and 25.9% in the U.S., after taking a brief dip during 2020.

“The operating environment across the competitive landscape remains challenging,” said Kempczinski in a statement accompanying the most recent earnings report.

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