McDonald’s Canada Declares Bagel War on Tim Horton’s

It’s been a rough year so far for Tim Horton’s.

A series of missteps – including one Ontario Tim’s franchise cutting paid breaks and benefits following the province’s minimum wage hike earlier this year – has seen the once-beloved coffee and donut chain’s brand tank from 4th place to 50th in the most recent nationwide corporate reputation study.

And now McDonald’s is taking aim. Yesterday, McDonald’s Canada announce it will start serving bagels at its 1400 nationwide locations. This follows a successful four-month pilot project in Ontario. Original, everything, multigrain, and cinnamon and raisin flavours will all be on offer.

If you’ve come this far and think this news is largely insignificant, I urge you to reconsider the economics of the bagel industry.

“Our goal is to grow our breakfast business,” said Anne Parks, director of McCafe menu management for McDonald’s Canada. “We know bagels are a billion-dollar category with over 290 million servings (per year) and it is something our guests have been asking for, so the time is right.”

That’s concerning news for Tim Horton’s, which has a considerable bagel market share in Canada. Despite the increased competition, Tim Horton’s President Alex Macedo remained confident that his company’s bagels are “the best in Canada.”

McDonald’s, meanwhile, will be feeling toasty after recent research concluded 53 per cent of Canadians that tried McDonald’s bagels would recommend them to a friend, and that 61 per cent would order a coffee with their bagel. If you recall, it was the Golden Arches’ foray into coffee that first launched this whole journey.

“This is our journey,” Parks said. “We launched coffee quite a few years ago and it has been very well received by guests. And then we moved into all-day breakfast, which was the next phase of the journey, and what we learned through consumer research is the perfect food that goes with coffee is bagels. So that was the next phase.”

And so the circle is complete. Let the bagel wars begin!