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Monthly menu check: QSR eases off value promos in March

Quick-service restaurant chains turned their focus from value promotions to premium items in March, according to the latest Monthly Menu Check report from Brad Ludington, an analyst from KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Where value promotions on “baskets” were popular in February, chain’s like Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s turned their attention to premium burger lines — Burger King promoted is new Chef’s Choice burgers [pictured left] and Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s touted their Southwest patty melt burgers.

In addition, many chains, including Wendy’s, Popeyes and Panda Express spent late February and March marketing seafood items for the Lenten season, as many consumers cut down on meat ahead of the Easter holiday.

“I think that many QSRs are using a month where they need to focus on higher-priced fish offerings for Lent to test a move up in price for other [menu] categories, as consumers appear to be gaining more confidence,” Ludington told Nation’s Restaurant News.

Taco Bell and McDonald’s also gave less attention to value with the promotions of their new and enhanced items. Taco Bell heavily marketed the nationwide rollout of its Doritos Locos taco [pictured right], which is made with shell of Nacho Cheese Doritos, and McDonald’s pushed its more healthful Happy Meal and its limited-time Shamrock Shake.

Some chains even ended certain value promotions all together, Ludington’s report found. Pizza Hut stopped promoting its any large pizza for $10 deal, and Subway ended its offer of any sub for $5 that ran in February.

Not all quick-service brands shied away from value promotions, however. KFC rolled out a chunky chicken pot pie for $3.99 and Sonic brought back its popcorn chicken for $2.99, which sells for a $1 less after 8 p.m.

Contact Charlie Duerr at [email protected].

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