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McDonald's USA President Denies Claims That Prices Have Increased 'Significantly': 'It Frustrates and Worries Me' The chain is introducing new value options for customers.

By Emily Rella

Amid recent reports of sky-high menu prices and new efforts to bring back customers, a member of McDonald's top brass is reaching out to customers directly.

In an open letter to patrons on Wednesday, Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald's USA, addressed reports that menu prices have increased over 100% in the past five years and rebuked claims that the famed burger chain raised prices above standard inflationary rates.

"Recently, we have seen viral social posts and poorly sourced reports that McDonald's has raised prices significantly beyond inflationary rates. This is inaccurate," Erlinger writes.

Related: McDonald's Adding a $5 Value Meal on June 25: Report

Erlinger notes that most McDonald's are owned by franchisees, and menu prices are set by owners to "account for the increased costs of running their businesses." Food and paper costs are up 35% nationally since 2019.

Still, that doesn't mean knowing there's an $18 Big Mac on a menu in Connecticut isn't jarring — even to him.

"I can tell you that it frustrates and worries me, and many of our franchisees, when I hear about an $18 Big Mac meal being sold - even if it was at one location in the U.S. out of more than 13,700," he wrote.

"Inflationary pressures have affected all sectors of the economy, including ours," Erlinger continued. "That's why prices for many of our menu items have risen less than the rate of inflation – and remain well within the range of other quick service restaurants."

McDonald's says that Egg McMuffin prices have increased an average of 23% since 2019, and the Big Mac increased 21%, on average, in the same period.

Related: McDonald's CEO: Lower Menu Prices May Be on the Way

McDonald's recently refuted a study claiming that prices have increased.

"This is not an accurate representation of historical or current pricing at McDonald's restaurants, and the 2024 average prices listed are significantly inflated," the chain told Entrepreneur earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the chain remains hopeful that menu changes and upcoming value deals will help retain customers and keep prices affordable.

"I fully expect the prices at your local McDonald's to be an area of conversation and focus in the coming months," Erlinger wrote. "As it does, I hope you'll see the programs we're launching nationally and locally as meaningful to you."

Related: 'That Cannot Be Right': McDonald's in Connecticut Goes Viral For $18 McNuggets, Burgers

During a Q1 2024 earnings call in April, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinsk confirmed that the chain would be doubling down on value as a focus in the months ahead.

"McDonald's has a long history of being the go-to destination for value and it's imperative that we continue to keep affordability at the forefront for our customers," Kempczinsk said, at the time. "We literally wrote the playbook on value, and we are committed to upholding our leadership within the industry."

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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