updated - May 24, 2013 Friday EDT
McDonald's appointed a new CEO, Don Thompson, this week and he is already shaking things up at the golden arches headquarters.
Thompson, 49, steps into the CEO role at the world's largest restaurant chain, and is set to focus on unveiling more chicken-based products, as opposed to beef.
"Some great examples include our large wrap in Europe and snack items like Chicken McBites," he said during a consumer conference, according to Bloomberg news.
"Our customers have given us permission to stretch our brand, so we are entering new categories with new products," he added.
Chicken items present a variety of benefits for a fast food chain like McDonald's. Firstly, chicken items can be priced lower than beef and other proteins. This adds a lot of value for consumers in an economy that's still bogged down.
"The consumer is expressing some recent signs of distress" and chicken costs are "cheap relative to beef right now by a lot," said Bryan Elliott, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Also, consumers see chicken as healthier than beef, which helps McDonald's brand perception as it's usually the first target when analyzing the obesity epidemic in the United States. A Big Mac has 550 calories, while a six-piece order of Chicken McNuggets has 280 calories.
Thompson is the company's first African-American CEO and he takes the reins from Jim Skinner, who had been CEO since 2004.
Under Skinner, McDonald's remodeled restaurants, greatly expanded its food and beverage menus and posted strong results through the recession by attracting cash-strapped customers with low prices and limited-time specials.
Analysts expect Thompson, to create a legacy along the lines of what he has done as McDonald's president and chief operating officer - a post he assumed in January 2010 to oversee 33,500 restaurants in 119 countries.
McDonald's began selling 410-calorie Spicy Chicken McBites in the United States. At the same time, Americans are expected to eat more poultry.
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