McDonald’s has scrapped plans to make a popular menu item available nationally this year. USA Today reports that the fast-food giant won’t do what it has done the past three years, when it put the popular McRib on the menu nationally to help pump up sales during the second half of the year.
"The fast-food chain says it’s leaving it up to local franchise groups to decide whether to offer the pork sandwich, which comes with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce," the story reports. "Now the company is going back to the days when the sandwich was a regional offering. The lack of widespread availability in years past in some regions helped give the sandwich a fabled status, with one fan even creating a McRib Locator to help people find the sandwich. The sandwich’s status in pop culture is also fueled by its patty, which is shaped to look as though there are bones inside."
The company has had difficulty juggling new menu items, the report notes. "Tyler Litchenberger, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, said the company had ‘other national priorities’ this year, such as its new Mighty Wings. She said franchises that decided to sell the McRib have had it for the past couple of weeks," USA Today reports.
The spokeswoman did not provide details on the number of markets where the McRib is available.
"McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Ill., has been stepping up its pace of limited-time offers and new menu introductions over the past year," the story notes. "The strategy is seen as a way to keep customers interested amid intensifying competition. But Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald’s U.S. business, conceded last week that the pace has been too fast and created operational issues for restaurants."
Sales at U.S. McDonald’s restaurants that have been open for at least a year rose just 0.7% in the most recent quarter, the report notes, adding: "The company has been struggling to boost sales since late last year, when a key monthly sales figure fell for the first time in nearly a decade."