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McDonald's customers decry price of fast food in 2023: 'No longer a poor man's food'

Gripes about groceries in Canada are inescapable on social media and users are widening their beef by placing a target on fast food giant McDonald's.

Gripes about groceries in Canada are inescapable on social media — from prices, to the quality of products, to the experience itself — and users are widening their beef by placing a target on fast food giant McDonald's.

On the Toronto-specific thread toRANTo, which features rants about the city, a Redditor asked "why even eat here anymore" after buying a pricier-than-expected Big Mac meal.

“A Big Mac Meal is $13.10," the original poster wrote. “It’s no longer a poor man’s food. If I can get a proper meal that’s filling elsewhere with that amount of money why even go there anymore?"

Hundreds of other commenters chimed in.

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"There is no such thing as cheap food anymore," one said.

"I ordered a large coffee and two hashbrowns and it was seven dollars. I’m never going back," another said about a recent visit.

McDonald's menu at the entrance to the Drive Thru outside McDonald's fast food restaurant in the central Edmonton.
On Friday, January 7, 2022, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
McDonald's menu at the entrance to the Drive Thru outside McDonald's fast food restaurant in the central Edmonton. On Friday, January 7, 2022, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

McDonald's is affordable no more, customers lament

Many in the comments agreed that what was once considered an affordable guilty pleasure, is on par with regular dining options.

"The delta between fast food and lower tier sit down restaurants in terms of price is so small now," a commenter wrote. "Almost no point in eating fast food now."

Several users shared their woes over pricing of recent orders.

“Yeah, McDouble meal was my go-to and it was $5.25... got one recently and it was around $8 (prices obviously vary by location, I'm not in Ontario) and I was shocked. That used to be enough to get a regular quarter pounder,” a user remarked.

One commenter added they "lived off" Junior Chicken combos — one of the restaurant's less expensive meal options — in high school, which they remember being $5 "on the dot."

“(Junior Chicken) combo is over $8," they wrote. "We lived off it in high school. Inflation made McDonald’s go stupid.”

“I don’t mind a Big Mac once in a while, but I ate there recently and the burger was gone in like 4 bites. Why pay over $13 for a meal and feel just as hungry after,” another commenter questioned.

Some made the point that other fast food restaurants, like Subway, A&W and KFC, have also become unaffordable.

Experts say several factors at play

Chetan Dave, a professor of economics at University of Alberta, says these noticeable price increases are a result of several factors.

For one, the increase of minimum wages. When restaurants are required to pay their staff more, they pass on the cost of increased labour in the form of increased menu prices, Dave says.

Another reason could be linked to international affairs, like wars happening in Europe and the Middle East. These events have a direct impact on higher oil prices, which in turn ups the price of ingredients used at fast food restaurants, and beyond.

“That is passed on to farms, which is passed onto the restaurants, and then to customers via increased menu prices,” Dave tells Yahoo Canada.

Kelleen L. Wiseman, academic director of the Master of Food and Resource Economics at University of British Columbia, adds that all restaurants have fixed costs — things like labour costs, franchise fees and utilities. So when fixed costs go up, so do prices.

“Fixed costs don’t go up right away but go up as a lag,” she says. “So if they stay higher, that’s when there’s adjustments and that’s what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing strong adjustments.”

McDonalds Canada did not respond to several requests for comment.

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14:  Currently, McDonald's top-selling children's meals can range from 300 to nearly 800 calories across North America        (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Currently, McDonald's top-selling children's meals can range from 300 to nearly 800 calories across North America (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images) (Bernard Weil via Getty Images)