In the 1990s, the fast-food chain had a problem: though incredibly popular, their new breakfast burrito recipe was slowing them down.
When McDonald’s introduced its Sausage Burrito in the mid-90s, it quickly became a hit. But, behind the scenes, creating it was time-consuming and labor-intensive. A single burrito involved scrambling eggs, cooking vegetables and sausage, then hand-rolling all the ingredients into a tortilla. McDonald’s soon realized they needed a new process to simplify back-of-the-restaurant operational complexity in order to serve a more consistent product to consumers.
Cargill’s Sunny Fresh Foods (now Cargill Kitchen Solutions) stepped in to help, developing a new recipe that shortened the preparation while maintaining the burrito’s beloved taste and texture. It was an instant success, quickly incorporated into the company’s complete system of restaurants, reducing costs and creating a more consistent consumer experience.
The success of the Sausage Burrito gave way to two additional, limited-edition menu items: the Steak and Egg Burrito and Chorizo Burrito, released in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
In addition to driving added profitability for the McDonald’s breakfast business, the innovation earned Sunny Fresh Foods the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in 1999—an honor Cargill Kitchen Solutions would go on to receive again in 2005.