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July 13, 2021

With new grilled Paninis, Tim Hortons takes aim at the Big Mac

In 2007, you wouldn’t quite say Tim Hortons looked up to McDonald’s, but in many ways it envied the burger joint.

Tim-hortons-alwaysfresh-ellispe-logoThough Tim’s cut its teeth as the destination for quick-serve breakfast in Canada, offering coffee and donuts since it first opened its doors in 1964, McDonald’s and the Egg McMuffin still held the top spot in the country’s fast food breakfast landscape.

But then, in came the breakfast sandwich, and one year later Tim’s was the king of morning fast food, a position its held ever since.

Though what about lunch? Could a menu overhaul, included new grilled Panini sandwiches coming soon, really help Canada’s coffee chain take down mighty McDonald’s in the nation’s fast food lunch market?

Long as the odds may be, Tim’s is trying.

*Bing: Fast food nutritional info

Less than eight months after it introduced its beef lasagna casserole, Tim Hortons is testing out a new line of grilled Panini sandwiches at select locations in Saskatoon and Toronto.

The sandwiches – a turkey chipotle, a Tuscan chicken, a smoked ham and cheese and a bacon, tomato and cheese, all $5.29 each – will be rolled out across Ontario by the end of the August. Canada-wide, they should debut by October.

The message is clear for the always-evolving Tim Hortons. It’s gunning for McDonald’s, which despite shifts in health perspectives across Canada, still rides its Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets to the no. 1 spot in fast food lunch.

“People are looking for an alternative to a fried product,” Tim Hortons interim CEO and president Paul House told the Star. “The (consumer’s) … appetites are changing. We need to move our menu with them.”

Certainly, lunch is the bread-and-butter of the fast food biz, making up 33 per cent of total fast food sales in the country.

But Tims is hoping it can replicate its breakfast success later in the day. The infrastructure is in place – there are more than twice as many Tim Hortons locations in Canada than there are McDonald’s – but the battle will be uphill. Paninis will no doubt be delicious, but burgers and fries are as entrenched in fast food as they come.

In the future, will you opt for grilled Paninis instead of burger chains for lunch?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...