Marketing

McDonald's is taking its Krispy Kreme partnership national

The fast-food giant said it plans a phased rollout of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at its restaurants across the country by the end of 2026.
McDonald's Krispy Kreme
McDonald's will start rolling out Krispy Kreme doughnuts at its restaurants later this year. | Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

McDonald’s plans to roll out Krispy Kreme doughnuts nationwide, but some locations may have to wait a while.

The Chicago-based fast-food chain said on Tuesday that it plans to start rolling out Krispy Kreme doughnuts at locations later this year, with nationwide availability at participating restaurants by the end of 2026.

The company will make available three types of Krispy Kreme doughnuts: The Original Glazed, Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles and Chocolate Iced Kreme-Filled. Krispy Kreme will deliver those doughnuts daily to McDonald’s locations, as it does with grocers, convenience stores, pharmacies and other places where it sells its doughnuts.

The doughnuts will be available individually or in boxes of six.

The two companies said they plan to provide more details of the rollout in the coming months.

News of the expanded deal sent Krispy Kreme soars skyrocketing on Tuesday morning, with shares up more than 17% in pre-market trading. 

The move follows a successful test in Kentucky, which began in the fall of 2022 and was expanded to 160 locations last year.

Krispy Kreme executives said in November that they could expand the partnership and last month said that talks were ongoing. “Our relationship with McDonald’s remains strong,” CEO Joshua Charlesworth told analysts.

But the move will put some pressure on Krispy Kreme to expand the availability of its doughnuts. McDonald’s operators 13,500 U.S. locations, which will more than double the points of access where Krispy Kreme sells its doughnuts.

The chain uses traditional doughnut shops, mostly, to make doughnuts that it delivers daily to “delivered fresh daily” doors, or DFD doors. Krispy Kreme has 7,400 points of access in the U.S., including 6,800 DFD doors, and 14,000 points of access globally. Its long-term goal is 100,000 access points worldwide.

The chain began testing the use of McDonald’s restaurants as one of those doors to see if its doughnuts would work well inside a fast-food restaurant. Executives have largely said that the test worked on their end.

Yet Krispy Kreme also does not have locations in some markets, which would make it difficult to supply all McDonald’s restaurants without some logistical changes.

“The top request we receive from consumers, every day, is ‘Please bring Krispy Kreme to our town,’” Charlesworth said in a statement. “Partnering with McDonald’s on a national scale will provide our fans and doughnut lovers unprecedented daily access to fresh doughnuts and the joy that is Krispy Kreme.”

Executives said last month that they were working to build capacity. The company said it has secured sites in the Minneapolis area, Miami and Los Angeles. “We have thoughtfully started making additional investments in manufacturing capacity to support” its plans to expand doughnut availability nationally, Charlesworth said last month.

Krispy Kreme has been scaling its supply chain, building a support team, adding technology and equipment and enhancing training to support the expansion of DFD doors, which includes the McDonald’s rollout.

For McDonald’s, the deal gives the company another item to sell inside its restaurants, without the additional complexity of making a product itself.

The partnership is “a chance to unlock new business opportunities in the breakfast category and throughout the day,” Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA’s Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, said in a statement. “Our fans’ love for Krispy Kreme runs deep, and we can’t wait to make it even easier for them to satisfy their sweet tooth at McDonald’s restaurants across the country.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to add Krispy Kreme's stock price. It has also been changed to correct Krispy Kreme's goal on global points of access.

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