(Oct. 7) MIAMI — Consumers wanted it. Other chains have turned to it. Now, Burger King Corp. is looking to produce in building its menu options.

The Miami-based hamburger chain recently announced the largest new product launch — and menu change — in its history with the nationwide rollout of the 99-cent BK Value Menu, featuring 11 items, including baked potato, garden salad and taco offerings.

The chain is sourcing all products for the new items from its existing network of vendors, company officials said.

Six are new — available daily for 99 cents. Company officers say it is the most extensive array of menu offerings under $1 in the fast-food restaurant industry.

Along with the baked potato, which is baked in the store, the menu features two hamburgers, french fries, onion rings, soft drinks, milkshakes, chili, tacos, chicken tenders and a garden salad.

“This is a new day at Burger King,” John Dasburg, chairman, chief executive officer and president of the company, said in a news release. “(It) is an important strategic addition to our overall menu. It is focused on providing outstanding customer value and variety everyday.”

Variety and affordability are the keys to the new offerings, said Chris Clouser, executive vice president and chief global marketing officer, adding that there are nearly 700 combinations for the new offerings.

“It’s also about our customers who tell us they want more choice and flexibility when it comes to their ability to build on their value meals,” he said. “Now there is something for everyone.”

The new menu was developed over 10 months in conjunction with franchisees and others. Ninety-five percent of Burger King franchisees voted in support of the new menu, which, according to company officials, is the largest level of franchisee support in the history of the company.

“It’s really important in this day and age to introduce fruits and vegetables as an alternative to just our normal fare,” said Linda Fox, a franchisee in Overland Park, Kan. “If you’re going to fill the needs of the whole family, you have to have a good selection, from fruits and vegetables all the way to a Double Whopper with cheese.”

Among the produce-related items now on the menu are a baked potato served with sour cream, butter and chives and with cheese available; tacos with ground beef, lettuce, cheese and salsa in taco shells; and a garden salad, which is a blend of iceberg and romaine lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots and red cabbage served with croutons and a choice of dressings, including a reduced-fat option.

The changes are a response to consumer demands for more healthful alternatives in the fast-food arena, Fox said.

“The menu has to evolve because our appetites change,” said Fox, a franchisee since 1979. “We as a people are changing. You can see that in our sit-down dining room. It’s more like a casual dining room, as opposed to the fast-food (environment).”

The changes come on the heels of the July launch in Canada of a Lighter Choices menu by McDonald’s, featuring new salads and sandwiches, including a vegetable burger. McDonald’s in the U.S. may be following suit soon.Fast-food chain Wendy’s has offered baked potatoes for years.

“It’s great to see,” said Lori Baer, spokeswoman for the Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation. “This is where people are eating and this is where they need healthy choices. If they don’t, they’re going to choose the alternatives. It’s a wonderful opportunity to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in restaurants and fast-food chains. It also speaks to the growing demand for healthy foods.”