McDonald’s says $18 Big Mac meal was an ‘exception’, reports overestimate price increases | News, sports, jobs

FILE – The McDonald’s restaurant logo and golden arch are illuminated, April 20, 2006, in Chicago. McDonald’s plans to introduce a $5 meal deal in the US in June 2024 to combat slowing sales and customer frustration over high prices. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

(AP) – McDonald’s is fighting back against viral tweets and media reports that it says have exaggerated price increases.

In a post on the company’s website, McDonald’s US president Joe Erlinger said reports suggesting the price of the average Big Mac has doubled since 2019 are incorrect. McDonald’s said the average U.S. Big Mac cost $4.39 in 2019 and now costs $5.29, an increase of 20.5%.

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

Erlinger acknowledged that he and many franchisees were frustrated by a report on X last summer about a Big Mac meal in Connecticut that cost $18. “an exception.” He noted that franchisees own and operate 95% of U.S. McDonald’s locations and set their own prices “work hard to minimize the impact of price increases.”

The average price in the US for a Big Mac meal, including a sandwich, fries and a drink, is currently $9.29.

Still, the Chicago burger giant said the cost of some items has seen bigger price increases than the Big Mac. The average price of medium fries was $2.29 in 2019 and is now $3.29, an increase of 44%.

McDonald’s said the average price of all menu items has increased 40% over the past five years, equating to an average increase in the cost of labor, paper and food of 40%. That’s higher than overall consumer prices, which have risen 21% since December 2019, according to government figures.

McDonald’s saw a marked slowdown in store traffic in the first three months of this year as customers affected by inflation in the US and other major markets dined out less often. As a result, the company promised more deals.

Next month, McDonald’s is expected to introduce a $5 meal deal in the US, including a sandwich, a four-piece McNugget, small fries and a small drink.

Erlinger said he hopes customers will find the company’s upcoming deals “meaningful.”

“It is clear that we – together with our franchisees – must remain focused on value and affordability,” Erlinger said.

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