McDonald's to cut down menu items to boost speed

Bowing to pressure to slim down what some call a bloated menu, McDonald's is cutting eight items from its menu beginning in January to boost service speed.

The fast-food giant is also reducing its number of extra value meals from 16 to 11 as it seeks to turn around its U.S. unit, it said at its investor meeting Wednesday.

It's unclear which items will be axed as part of the revamp. As an example, a McDonald's spokeswoman said the company could reduce its number of quarter pounders with cheese to one from four, premium chicken sandwiches to one from three and snack wraps to one from three.

It's currently testing this menu in Delaware; Little Rock, Arkansas; Waco, Texas; Bakersfield, California; Macon, Georgia; and Knoxville, Tennessee, according to a McDonald's spokeswoman.

The company has struggled recently to turn around its performance recently amid increased competition in the restaurant industry as fast-casual players like Chipotle have gained share. In November, U.S. comparable restaurant sales dropped 4.6 percent. Year to date, the company's stock has dropped 6 percent.

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Four out of five of its sales come from a small set of its menu, the company said on its call.

"It helps operationally yes, but it simplifies the menu as well," said CEO Don Thompson on the call.

To turn itself around, the company is betting on a new premium service platform called "Create Your Taste" where customers can customize their own burgers and chicken items. It is also giving more autonomy to local operators so they can cater to preferences in local markets.

The brand will also look to be more culinary inspired with how its looks at its look with attention to the length of ingredient labels.

In recent weeks, the company has focused on transparency as it seeks to assure diners about its food quality through videos about what really goes into its food production process.