Providing meaningful value to our fans, with a side of facts

May 29, 2024

The following is an open letter from Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s USA

To our U.S. fans:

I still remember the excitement I felt as a kid when my parents turned into a McDonald’s. I think back to that almost every day in my job running McDonald’s USA (and to my mom’s love of McNuggets).

While I didn’t realize it then, it wasn't just the great burgers and fries that made McDonald’s a destination for the Erlingers – it was knowing my parents could count on their local McDonald’s for a convenient, affordable meal for the whole family.

That’s just as important today. Americans across the country are making tough calls about where to spend their hard-earned money.

And while we’ve been working hard to make sure our fans have great reasons to visit us, it’s clear that we – together with our franchisees – must remain laser-focused on value and affordability.

It’s what our brand was built on, and we are committed to living up to that legacy - especially at a time when our customers need it most.

That’s not why I’m writing today, though.

Recently, we have seen viral social posts and poorly sourced reports that McDonald’s has raised prices significantly beyond inflationary rates. This is inaccurate. And for a brand that proudly serves nearly 90% of the U.S. population every year, we feel a responsibility to make sure the real facts are available.

I can tell you that it frustrates and worries me, and many of our franchisees, when I hear about an $18 Big Mac meal being sold - even if it was at one location in the U.S. out of more than 13,700. More worrying, though, is when people believe that this is the rule and not the exception, or when folks start to suggest that the prices of a Big Mac have risen 100% since 2019.

The average price of a Big Mac in the U.S. was $4.39 in 2019. Despite a global pandemic and historic rises in supply chain costs, wages and other inflationary pressures in the years that followed, the average cost is now $5.29. That’s an increase of 21% (not 100%).

Inflationary pressures have affected all sectors of the economy, including ours. Our franchisees (who own and operate more than 95% of all restaurants in the U.S.) set menu prices for their restaurants, which account for the increased costs of running their businesses. In doing so, they work hard to minimize the impact of price increases on our fans. This includes the everyday prices on our restaurant menu boards to special limited-time offers.

That’s why prices for many of our menu items have risen less than the rate of inflation – and remain well within the range of other quick service restaurants. It’s also why more than 90% of U.S. franchisees are offering meal bundles for $4 or less.

I fully expect the prices at your local McDonald’s to be an area of conversation and focus in the coming months. As it does, I hope you’ll see the programs we’re launching nationally and locally as meaningful to you. At the same time, I hope it’s helpful to see some of the common myths that I’ve encountered, and the facts that go along with them.

And because I can’t help myself, for the greatest way to unlock all the value we offer, be sure to download and use the McDonald's app.

Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s USA


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