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Burger King will replace its chicken sandwich as competition grows fierce

Burger King will replace its current sandwich with a new version. (Provided Photo/Burger King via CNN)

 (CNN) — Burger King doesn’t want to come out a loser in fast food’s chicken sandwich wars. So it’s planning an upgrade.

The chain said Wednesday that it is replacing its current crispy chicken sandwich with a new, hand-breaded version. The new product, which comes in original or spicy, is made with a savory signature sauce and served with pickles on a potato bun. It will be available at Burger King restaurants across the country later this year.

Competition in the chicken sandwich space is fierce. Following the wild success of the Popeyes chicken sandwich launch in 2019, restaurants across the industry have been launching or improving their own versions of the product. McDonald’s, which is hyping its product with hoodies and other swag, is rolling out a trio of crispy chicken sandwiches this month. Others, like Wendy’s and KFC, have also launched new products.

“Chicken has been identified as an opportunity for growth across the industry, with chicken almost [twice] the size of beef globally and growing at a faster rate,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Lauren Silberman in a recent note. “We expect competition to heat up in 2021.”

Burger King hopes that the new product will improve sales in the key area.

“Chicken is a big business for us,” said Ellie Doty, Burger King’s chief marketing officer.

“If the guest is going for a top quality chicken sandwich, they might be going somewhere else right now,” she added. “We’re upping our game.”

Burger King has been working on the new sandwich since 2019. It’s been testing out the sandwich in some markets to make sure that the new product doesn’t slow restaurants down, and to figure out how to price the new item.

The current crispy chicken sandwich is sold for around $5, depending on the market. Burger King has tested selling the new sandwich for about $1 less.