McDonalds Hits Back $18 Big Mac Deal Outrage

America’s most iconic fast food chain has refuted claims that its menu prices have outstripped the inflation rate, after photos of $18 Big Mac meals went viral last year.

On the Defense

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McDonald’s prices have soared in recent years, with many Americans viewing their meal deals as a luxury rather than an affordable option. But McDonald’s has jumped to defend its prices, claiming that reports of exorbitant price increases are overblown and exaggerated. 

Open Letter to Customers

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The fast-food empires U.S. President Joe Erlinger took to its official website on Wednesday to address the matter in an open letter. 

Sharing the “Real Facts”

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“For a brand that proudly serves nearly 90% of the U.S. population every year, we feel a responsibility to make sure the real facts are available,” Erlinger began.

Refuting a Viral Tweet

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One of the “facts” that Erlinger refuted was a viral tweet circulated on X last summer, which showed evidence of a McDonald’s franchise in Connecticut which was selling Big Mac combos for $18.

Claims That Prices Have Doubled

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The photo sparked outrage on the internet, with many people claiming that average Big Mac prices had doubled in the last five years.

Only a 20.5% Increase

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Erlinger described the incident as an “exception” and not the rule for most franchises across the US, and stated that the average Big Mac meal price had only risen by 20.5%. 

“Social Posts and Poorly Sourced Reports”

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“Recently, we have seen viral social posts and poorly sourced reports that McDonald’s has raised prices significantly beyond inflationary rates. This is inaccurate,” Erlinger wrote. 

Comparisons to 2019

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“The average price of a Big Mac in the U.S. was $4.39 in 2019,” he continued. “Despite a global pandemic and historic rises in supply chain costs, wages and other inflationary pressures in the years that followed, the average cost is now $5.29. That’s an increase of 21% (not 100%).”

Average Meal Costs

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The average cost of a Big Mac meal, when restaurants across all states are taken into account, is $9.29, and includes a drink and fries.

In Line With Inflation

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While Erlinger and the company have not denied a substantial increase in prices, they have denied that they have raised prices beyond the price of inflation, an accusation that has been levied by many.

Concerns and Frustrations

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Erlinger also expressed concern that “people believe that this is the rule and not the exception,” as well as his own frustration at the $18 Big Mac meal deal. 

Franchise Owners Set the Prices

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According to the open letter, McDonald’s franchisees own and operate 95% of all 13,700 restaurants across the country, and are accountable for making sure that menu prices cover their costs while remaining affordable.

Consistent With Other Companies

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Erlinger was also quick to maintain that McDonald’s prices had remained “well within the range of other quick service restaurants,” the majority of which have also raised their prices due to inflation, rising minimum wages for fast-food workers in certain states, and more.

Foot Traffic Decreases

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McDonald’s, like many fast-food chains across the country, has been hit hard by falling customer spending. The company saw a downturn in foot traffic in the first quarter of 2024.

Spending Less Across the Board

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The consulting firm Revenue Management Solutions released a poll in January which found that Americans workers who earn less than $50,000 a year have been spending less on fast food across the board due to increasing prices. 

McDonalds at the Fore of Public Anger

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However, McDonald’s seems to be the symbol of untenable, unaffordable fast food prices for frustrated customers, which is a sharp contrast to their historical role as a provider of cheap, filling meals. 

Searching for Tactics

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This is not lost on the heads of the company, who have been scrambling to find new ways to maintain that image. One such tactic includes a $5 meal deal promotion that starts at the end of June.

$5 Meal Deal

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The combo allows customers to purchase either a McDouble, McChicken, or four-pack of chicken nuggets, along with small fries and a drink. The deal will run for just one month.

CEO Acknowledges the Change

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McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski acknowledged the need for the company to remain affordable for the average American in an analysts call on April 30.

Keeping Affordability at the Forefront

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“It’s imperative that we continue to keep affordability at the forefront for our customers,” he said.  “We literally wrote the playbook on value, and we are committed to upholding our leadership within the industry.”

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The postMcDonalds Hits Back $18 Big Mac Deal Outrage first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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