China is a tough space for McDonald's, which lags behind rival Yum! Foods' 5.2% market share with just 2%.
McDonald's has publicly said it is not trying to beat Yum! Foods' reach, and is instead focusing on improving the quality of its menu. It's probably this ambition that the company had in mind when it decided to launch a new "rice-based" menu for the country.
Unfortunately for the golden arches, it sounds like a flop. A bad flop.
State news agency Xinhua announced the new menu earlier this month, reporting that would be sold in all 1,700 restaurants in mainland China.
"Our new dining options are examples of how McDonald's innovates to bring more options to our Chinese customers, because that's what they want," Kenneth Chan, chief executive officer of McDonald's China. said in a press release.
Here's a promo picture of the menu. In it you can see the “five colour tender chicken rice wrap” which costs Rmb16 ($2.61), the same wrap with beef for Rmb18 ($2.94), a “secret recipe” chicken and rice dish for Rmb18 ($2.94) and baked beef and rice for Rmb20 ($3.26).
McDonalds via Weibo
The Financial Times' BeyondBrics blog has collected some of the online reactions to the menu, and they don't seem favorable. Here's one representative review:
“I tried McDonald’s rice for the first time and it was truly disappointing. It not only looked terrible but it was too small: it cost Rmb20 for just a thin layer of rice with four thin beef cutlets and terrible vegetables.”
Another customer complained that there was no chopsticks.
That's a relatively kind review, however, compared to the one featured in That's Mag. The expat publication reviewed most of the menu, taking photos to put alongside the official promo pictures, and it really isn't pretty.
Here's what they have to say about the beef and rice dish:
Quite sad, though, seeing these once-juicy plump patties, lying wretched and naked on the rice, roughly halved, undressed, reeking of their age. I don’t know what you would do, but I decided to show these seniors some respect. I did what you’d always do visiting Grandma’s for lunch: not eat any of it, then afterwards, order instead from your friendly local Chinese.
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