Taco Bell may add fries to its menu permanently to compete with McDonald’s

Dec 14, 2022, 2:34 PM
Taco bell fries and nacho cheese on display...
Taco Bell's Nacho Fries, available topped with beloved Taco Bell add-ons, including beef, Pico de Gallo, Nacho Cheese and sour cream. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Taco Bell)
(Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Taco Bell)

(CNN) — Taco Bell knows you want fries with that. Especially during lunch.

To compete with rivals such as McDonald’s during lunchtime, the chain is considering permanently adding fries to its menu, Taco Bell CEO Mark King said during an investor event Tuesday.

“People that go to lunch want to have French fries. We know that. So we’re looking at and testing bringing fries permanently on to the menu, which would increase our lunch business dramatically,” King said.

Taco Bell has put nacho fries, its take on French fries, on the menu periodically as a limited-time offering since the item launched in 2018. In King’s words, “we offer fries half the time.”

There are advantages to bringing items back seasonally or periodically. Those products help fast food companies create buzz and give customers a reason to place an order or visit restaurants in person.

But by keeping fries on the menu year-round, Taco Bell could potentially steal some of its rivals’ customers. And with restaurant traffic slipping, it’s especially important for eateries to figure out ways to win over customers who will stick around.

As things stand now, Taco Bell is behind during key parts of the day.

“If you were to look at how we compete against McDonald’s in dinner and late night, we’re absolutely even. When you look at breakfast and lunch, we’re significantly behind,” King said. He added that the chain plans to “commit to breakfast” to help compete in the category.

“There’s a big opportunity just in those two dayparts to increase our business significantly over the coming years,” King said.

In the past, Taco Bell has tested nacho fries topped with steak and ranch sauce, and is currently offering seven-layer nacho fries loaded with beef, black beans, guacamole and more. It did not specify which types of fries it is considering adding, or what kind of tests it’s undertaking.

Taco Bell recently saw some success with bringing a popular item back: In May, Mexican Pizza returned to menus after a two-year hiatus. The chain later reported that by the end of June it had already sold 20 million Mexican Pizzas across the country, and attributed growth in loyalty membership to customers’ desire for early access to the product. It made the item permanent in the fall.

Sales at Taco Bell locations open at least a year jumped 6% in the third quarter compared to the prior year, according to parent company Yum Brands, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.

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Taco Bell may add fries to its menu permanently to compete with McDonald’s