McDonald's menu hikes: McDouble up 168%, McChicken 200% in 10 years

A McDonald's McChicken Sandwich, which has seen its price increase by nearly 200% over the past decade, now costing around $3 compared to $1 in 2014. (Nick Kindelsperger/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

McDonald's customers are experiencing sticker shock as menu prices have nearly tripled over the past decade, with the cost of some items increasing by nearly 200%. 

A recent graphic by Carbon Finance highlights the dramatic surge in McDonald's prices over the past decade, showing a 168% increase in the cost of a McDouble. Based on a recent FinanceBuzz study, the average price of a McDouble has jumped from $1.19 in 2014 to $3.19 today. Similarly, the McChicken Sandwich now costs around $3, reflecting a 199% increase since 2014.

Why McDonald's prices are rising

Several factors are contributing to these price hikes, including increased food and labor costs, supply chain disruptions, and rising operational expenses.

  • Increased food costs: The cost of ingredients has surged due to climate change, higher transportation costs, and supply chain disruptions. For instance, beef prices have risen significantly, increasing the cost of burgers and other meat-based items.
  • Labor costs: Wages in the fast-food industry have increased due to minimum wage hikes and worker competition. These increases are particularly notable in states like California, where the minimum wage is set to reach $20 per hour​​.
  • Operational expenses: Rising utilities, rent, and maintenance costs, along with investments in technology and infrastructure, have also contributed to higher prices​.

McDonald's costs: 2014 vs. 2024

RELATED: Why are food prices so high despite inflation falling?

Comparison with other fast food chains

While McDonald's prices have doubled on average, other chains have also significantly increased. Popeyes, Taco Bell, and Chipotle have raised their prices by 86%, 81%, and 75% over the past decade. In contrast, Subway and Starbucks have managed to keep their price increases to a more modest 39%.

RELATED: Target cutting prices on ‘thousands’ of basics amid inflation

Customer reactions and future outlook

Customers have taken to social media to express their frustration, with many feeling that the fast-food giant no longer offers the value it once did. 

Despite the backlash, experts suggest that fast-food prices may continue to rise, though potentially slower, if inflation and wage pressures stabilize.

Efforts to lure back customers

In response to the high prices, McDonald's is introducing a $5 meal deal starting in June 2024. This limited-time offer aims to attract budget-conscious customers by providing a choice of a McDouble or McChicken sandwich, four-piece chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink for $5. 

This promotion is part of McDonald's strategy to counter slowing sales and customer dissatisfaction due to rising prices.

Similarly, Target has announced plans to lower prices on essential items to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers. This includes discounts on groceries, household items, and clothing to relieve customers facing inflationary pressures.