McDonald's is testing a fresh beef burger

A McDonald's Big Mac and French Fries are seen in this photo taken August 12, 2009 in Washington, DC.
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McDonald’s is testing a new burger that is made with fresh beef, the Archburger.

A reference to the company's Golden Arches logo, the Archburger is going for a trial run at seven locations in the U.S. according to a research note by the brokerage Instinet.

In March, the Oak Park, Ill.-based chain announced it would start making its iconic Quarter Pounder with fresh beef in 2018.

McDonald's has been under increasing pressure to move to fresh-beef burgers due to the popularity of rival chains that offer them, from Shake Shack to In-N-Out Burger. 

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Instinet analyst Mark Kalinowski identified two test sites -- one in Plano, Texas, and one in a suburb of Tulsa, Okla. Both are selling a regular Archburger with cheese, pickle, onions and Arch Sauce for $2.19. An Archburger L&T, which also has lettuce and tomato, is going for $2.69. A  Bacon Archburger is $2.89.

The Plano restaurant's menu board includes the tagline "One bite and you'll believe" and the promise of  "fresh beef cooked when you order," according to Kalinowski.

McDonald's confirmed the Archburger test, but declined to share details.

"We.. look forward to gaining valuable feedback from our customers and crew. We are continuing to raise the bar for our customers with new menu items and ways to experience our brand," the company said in a statement.

More than 20 years ago, McDonald's tried out an Arch Deluxe burger aimed at adults with a mustard and mayonnaise sauce. The product, which cost $150 million to develop and roll out, was considered a flop.

McDonald's has since before to go upscale. In May, it launched the Signature Crafted Recipes sandwich line, which has won attention. In September, the chain added hand-crafted drinks to its McCafe line-up.

News about the Archburger trial run and the buzz surrounding the Quarter Pounder switch to fresh beef and the artisanal sandwiches will help McDonald's same-store sales this year, especially in the second half of 2018, Kalinowski forecasts.

"It looks increasingly possible that there may be additional news on the fresh-beef front during 2018," he wrote, wondering whether McDonald's would start using fresh beef for Big Macs, regular hamburgers and regular cheeseburgers "at some point."

The Archburger trial comes at a time when consumers pay more attention to what's in their food, both at home and when eating out.

As fast-casual chains that emphasize clean eating continue to grow in popularity, such as Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast food industry is paying attention. For example, several chains, including Burger King and KFC, have pledged to stop using chicken treated with antibiotics.