Ronald Taking a Ribbing From Burger King

Rival fast feeder introducing BK Rib Sandwich to try to beat beloved McRib

MIAMI -- Burger King on Thursday will unveil its 2013 summer menu plans, highlighted by a new, limited-time BK Rib Sandwich, according to a USA Today report. It is boneless like McDonald's McRib, has a tangy sauce and comes with sweet bread and butter pickles. It will be sold nationally beginning May 21.

BK's other summer rollouts include a return of Memphis Pulled Pork sandwiches, a line of Carolina BBQ sandwiches and sweet potato fries. It also will introduce a new BBQ Chicken Salad and line of Oreo-infused desserts. All of the products, including the rib sandwich, will be available only through the summer, the report said.

The move comes at a time when industry players like Burger King are increasingly taking on McDonald's in product innovation. Now, Burger King is even aiming for McDonald's piece of the rib sandwich market--whose fans can be fiercely loyal.

"That McDonald's has been bringing back McRib for 32 years tells you it's popular and important," Scott Hume, editor of BurgerBusiness, told the newspaper.

For Burger King, which has pushed hard on the product innovation button the past couple of years, the move into a boneless, rib sandwich and other pork products is being driven by two things: consumer demand and commodity prices.

"Our guests have grown to look for a variety of options," Eric Hirschhorn, vice president of global innovation, told the paper. "It's not just about beef anymore, but other proteins like chicken and turkey and pork."

It tested the rib sandwich, which has been 10 months in the making, in Shreveport, La., and sold "extremely well," Hirschhorn said. The recommended price, which will vary by market, is $3.49 a la carte and $5.59 as a meal--with fries and soft drink.

Burger King will soon begin heavily marketing the new sandwich, and the entire summer menu, under the "taste is king" slogan, said the report.

Executives at McDonald's don't sound particularly concerned. "We know our customers love McRib and we won't disappoint them," spokesperson Danya Proud told USA Today. "It will be returning." She declined to say when.

Hume said McDonald's has no need not fret. "I think McRib has such loyal fans that no one else's rib sandwich will hurt it, even if Burger King's is really good."