The item is available until June 30.
A new contestant has entered the chicken sandwich battle royale.
On Tuesday, Chili’s launched the Chili’s Chicken Sandwich across its 1,200-plus U.S. footprint. The product features a new Secret Sauce, topped with a tomato slice, a crispy hand-battered and hand-breaded fried chicken breast that’s covered with even more Secret Sauce, and lettuce. The sandwich is held together with two buttered and toasted brioche buns.
“We didn’t want to create just another chicken sandwich. We’re all about food perfection and wanted to create the best chicken sandwich. And that takes time,” said Michael Breed, Chili’s vice president of marketing, in a statement. “We’ve been testing a chicken sandwich and our new Secret Sauce for over a year to ensure we give our Guests the perfect bite— a bite that’s full of flavor and makes you want another bite and another—and we’ve done just that with the Chili’s Chicken Sandwich.”
“What sets our sandwich apart from the rest is the Secret Sauce. Plus we’re providing it at a value you just can’t beat,” added Breed.
The Chili’s Chicken Sandwich will be available until June 30. My Chili’s Rewards members may order the item via dine-in, takeout, or delivery through the Chili’s app for $10 as part of the 3 for $10 menu.
Chili’s announcement bucks a major trend as most of the chicken sandwich wars is fought in the quick-service segment. McDonald’s, Burger King, Zaxby’s, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Box have all released their entrant into the hotly contested category within the past year. The chicken sandwich battle gain famed and attention in 2019 when the release of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich went viral. The popular item helped the chain reach $1.8 million in AUV and grow systemwide sales nearly 18 percent to more than $5 billion.
Overall spending on chicken sandwiches soared 420 percent between January 2019 and December 2020, according to ecommerce company Edison Trends. As of April, Chick-fil-A led in market share (41 percent), followed by McDonald’s (27 percent), Popeyes (12 percent), Wendy’s (6 percent), KFC (5 percent) Jack in the Box (4 percent), Burger King (3 percent), and Zaxby’s (2 percent). The results were based on more than 120,000 U.S. transactions from top-selling restaurants via food delivery service sales.
However, the saturating chicken category is having a notable effect on prices. Using data from market research firm Urner Barry, the Wall Street Journal reported in early May that boneless chicken breast was trading at $2.04 per pound compared to roughly $1 per pound last year. The average price is approximately $1.32 per pound. The NPD Group said servings of wings in the fast-food sector soared 33 percent in the 12 months ending March, compared to the same period last year.
To mitigate pressure, brands have tested and rolled out products using more of the bird. For example, Wingstop has tested bone-in thigh wings and Smokey Bones’ virtual brand the Wing Experience recently introduced Whole Wings, which consists of a drumstick, flat, and wingtip. Smokey Bones said the concept will continue to serve traditional wings, but warned they may be unavailable at times. Similarly, KFC told operators in April to remove chicken tenders and Nashville Hot chicken items from online menus because of supply issues, the Journal reported.
Chili’s is certainly no stranger to the inflationary environment. In June 2020, the brand rolled out virtual brand It’s Just Wings, a concept that’s expected to become a $150 million growth driver. Demand has increased so much that it’s moved from being exclusively on DoorDash to adding takeout through Google.