What’s the point of a restaurant with Extra Value Meals if there’s no extra value? According to a former McDonald’s corporate chef, the restaurant chain might be more than OK leaving the values behind.
Known for decades as fast food’s most reliable place to get a very affordable meal, McDonald’s has been less and less affordable in recent years.
If you’ve already thought the Golden Arches may be intentionally leaving a certain demographic behind, you won’t be surprised by a new TikTok video going viral.
“Remember when I said McDonald’s is abandoning the value consumer?”
Chef Mike Haracz begins his February 5 video by asking people if they remember certain menus and ad campaigns intended to attract people earning below a certain amount of money.
“I’m a former McDonald’s corporate chef and in an earnings call this morning they fully admit they are losing the value customers, specifically those that are making $45,000 a year or less, and they are losing them to the grocery store. So they fully admit you can go to the store and make the same food for a lot cheaper."
He’s not wrong per se, but he doesn’t mention that food costs at grocery stores have also gone up, in most parts of the country much more so than McDonald’s prices.
According to the Big Mac Index (yes, a real way to measure inflation), Big Mac prices have gone up .92% from December 2022 to December 2023. According to the US Inflation Calculator food costs have risen 2.7% in the same time.
According to Chef Mike, McDonald's is no longer for "lower income folks."
The second takeaway from Chef Mike’s video is about McDonald’s clientele.
“They are saying that they are profitable this year even though they have lost a lot of foot traffic, meaning not as many people are going to McDonald’s because they continually raise the prices to these absurd levels. Middle-class and higher-class people are still going to McDonald’s, making them more profitable. So, lower income folk, McDonald’s is not the place you wanna go for affordable food options anymore.”
"McDonald's abandoning value consumers!" is catching on
With over 134,300 likes, 7,134 comments (mostly echoing what Chef Mike claims), and a few thousand shares, Mike's video is attracting quite a few people who think there's not nearly as much value as there once was — and they are sharing their McDonald's alternatives.
"Nah they lost me to the Texas Roadhouse next door. I can get a kids meal to go with more food for less," one follower commented before another added, "It’s almost $5 for large fries where I am. It’s cheaper to take the family out to full service Thai now."
A third chimed in, "I just go to my local Mexican restaurant. I can get a full meal with a drink under $10 with great portion sizes fresh every time."
Yes, food prices have gone up but the same meal is not $16 everywhere
It is important to note that McDonald’s are franchised and not all menus are priced the same. A standard Big Mac Meal is $10.59 at the McDonald's nearest to me. The same meal at the second closest McDonald’s is $10.09 and one slightly further is $9.89. That’s nearly a dollar difference for the same meal at three different McDonald’s within a one-mile radius.
McDonald's may no longer be intentionally going after value customers, but their prices are in line, lower actually, than food inflation.