Wendy's addresses 'dynamic pricing' comments, says it won't raise menu prices

The chain is speaking out after announcing new digital menu board investments.

February 28, 2024, 12:57 PM

Wendy's is pushing back on reports that the restaurant chain will increase menu prices.

Wendy's issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is investing $20 million into high-tech digital menu boards that would have the capability to update prices in real time.

"We said these menuboards would give us more flexibility to change the display of featured items. This was misconstrued in some media reports as an intent to raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants," the nation's second-largest burger chain said in its statement Tuesday. "We have no plans to do that and would not raise prices when our customers are visiting us most."

PHOTO: A sign stands over a Wendy's restaurant, Feb. 25, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.
A sign stands over a Wendy's restaurant, Feb. 25, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall/AP

Wendy's added that any changes "would be designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members."

"Digital menuboards could allow us to change the menu offerings at different times of day and offer discounts and value offers to our customers more easily, particularly in the slower times of day," the fast food chain continued. "Wendy's has always been about providing high-quality food at a great value, and customers can continue to expect that from our brand."

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The statement came a little less than two weeks after Wendy's CEO and president Kirk Tanner said in an earnings call with analysts that the chain could begin testing new features including "dynamic pricing" in 2025, following the rollout of "digital menu board enhancements," according to Nation's Restaurant News.

"We are planning to invest approximately $20 million to roll out digital menu boards to all U.S. company-operated restaurants by the end of 2025 and approximately $10 million over the next two years to support digital menu board enhancements for the global system," Tanner said on the call, according to the outlet.

He continued, "Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and daypart offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling."

Tanner's comments were subsequently picked up by a number of media outlets. In a statement to Food & Wine on Monday, a Wendy's spokesperson confirmed the CEO's comments, saying, "Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing a variety of enhanced features on these digital menuboards like dynamic pricing, different offerings in certain parts of the day, AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling based on factors such as weather. Dynamic pricing can allow Wendy's to be competitive and flexible with pricing, motivate customers to visit and provide them with the food they love at a great value. We will test a number of features that we think will provide an enhanced customer and crew experience."

The announcement of potential changes to Wendy's menu and pricing drew criticism from social media users, with a frosty reaction from some, including one user on X, formerly known as Twitter, who wrote, "Surge pricing is just Price Gouging by any other name."

In an earlier statement to ABC News, Wendy's previously said its dynamic menu pricing can "be competitive and flexible with pricing, motivate customers to visit and provide them with the food they love at a great value. We will test a number of features that we think will provide an enhanced customer and crew experience."

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