Catering to Local Tastes, McDonald's Finally Adds Rice to the Menu in China

In Many Parts of Asia, a Meal is Considered Incomplete Without Rice

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Big Mac, McDLT, Quarter Pounder with ... a Chicken Rice Wrap?

McDonald's is adding rice products to its menu for the first time in China, in a bid to better appeal to local tastes.

"Our new platform is all about winning the night by listening to what consumers want from McDonald's for dinner and after," Kenneth Chan, CEO of McDonald's China, said in a news release. "They want ... more filling portions but at the same great value, quality and convenience they have come to expect from McDonald's."

Beginning on Monday, all 1,700 McDonald's restaurants in China will offer four new menu items: Chicken Rice Wrap, Beef Rice Wrap, Chicken Rice Bowl and Beef Rice Bowl.

The wraps include lettuce, carrot, cabbage, tomato and a cake of steamed rice. The rice bowls are beef or chicken covered in a brown sauce, and a side of steamed rice studded with corn. Their prices range from $2.60 to $3.25.

In China along with many other Asian countries where rice is the staple grain, many people feel a meal is incomplete without rice. Although a Quarter Pounder combo packs plenty of calories, some might consider it a very filling snack but not a proper meal. McDonald's already sells rice items in other Asian countries, including a popular rice burger in Singapore.

The new items are part of a push to grow its dinner business in China, McDonald's said. Dinnertime promotions such as meal sets that had previously been offered from 5 pm to 8 pm will now be extended to 5 am.

McDonald's has been less aggressive about tailoring its menu to Chinese tastes than market leader KFC. McDonald's offerings in China include fried chicken wings, corn and milk tea with tapioca pearls, but otherwise its menu is generally similar to that in the U.S.

KFC, however, has many items that would leave most Americans scratching their heads. In addition to rice sets, KFC also sells fish ball soup, spring rolls, several varieties of rice porridge and egg custard tarts.

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