“This is our first introduction of flavor to the core breakfast lineup. We’ve been in breakfast for almost two years now, so it’s time to build on the overall flavor offerings,” Carl Loredo, Wendy’s chief marketing officer, told CNN Business in an exclusive interview. He added that the combination of habanero pepper and sweet honey “brings a nice balance” that doesn’t overpower the palate.
The new option is a spicier version of the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, which remains one of Wendy’s most popular breakfast offerings, Loredo said, adding that there are no plans to remove any items.
“We’re not taking anything away from consumers, but rather adding a little bit of spice to their life in the morning,” he said. Other top-selling items include the Breakfast Baconator, Frosty-ccino and seasoned potato wedges.
“We’re in a steady state for the next several months, perhaps with a bump up or down here and there, but we expect to lag pre-pandemic traffic levels through 2022 slightly,” David Portalatin, NPD food industry adviser, said in a recent note about the breakfast market.
Wendy’s is more optimistic, and expects morning meals to grow as much as 30% in 2022.
“It’s amazing considering how hard the breakfast daypart has been hit. Coming into Covid-19 and through all the challenges to see the growth we’ve been able to see in breakfast,” Loredo said. He added that the chain is seeing repeat customers return frequently for breakfast, but there’s still a “big opportunity to let folks know that we’ve got it.”
Another spicy sandwich
For lunch and dinner, Wendy’s is adding a new Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich, a fried chicken breast with melted pepper jack cheese, topped with bacon and crispy pickles and drizzled with hot honey sauce. That also goes on sale February 8, and costs $5.99.
For Wendy’s, it’s tweaking the trend slightly by mixing spice with sweet. “We’re not just delivering atomic hot that you see in wings and other offerings where it’s all about how impossibly hot you can make something,” Loredo said. “Let’s bring the spice and bring the sweet too, and those two things together give a really complex mouth feel and that’s what consumers are looking for.”