Easterbrook says "healthier" options at McDonald's hurting business
One of the most recognized name brands is the #1 fast food company in the world: McDonald's. It's hard to imagine anyone on this planet who has never heard of the famous golden arches, Ronald McDonald, or what they have become most well-known for--Quarter Pounders, Big Macs, French fries and milkshakes.
And last week the company announced business was extremely good over the summer with third quarter sales growth of 5.8 percent throughout the chain worldwide which caused sales of McDonald's stock to hit their highest point since 2000 on Wall Street.
Corporate executives quickly rolled out their PR swagger on this positive financial news for their company by stating the upcoming release of nutritional info on their packaging as well their healthier menu items (which Dr. Dean Ornish helped encourage McDonald's to add to their menu) such as carrot sticks, apple dippers with caramel sauce, all-white meat chicken nuggets, fruit bags, deli sandwiches and walnut salads were the reason for the resurgence in sales as well as the outstanding performance of the UK chain of McDonald's restaurants. Makes you wanna go on a McDiet, doesn't it?
But somebody forgot to send the memo to the CEO of the 1,125 McDonalds restaurants in Great Britain, Steve Easterbrook. Despite the improved sales numbers and the public perception that McDonald's really does care about offering better food choices for their customers, Easterbrook said all the focus on these "healthy" menu items that have been added in recent years such as salads are actually bad for business.
"In the past we have seemed somewhat apologetic about who and what we are, but you have to believe in the brand," Easterbrook remarked. "Our menu has evolved, and we now have a much broader range of salads and sandwiches. But we were alienating customers by pushing our salads."
Easterbrook notes that 25 McDonald's units in Great Britain were forced to shut their doors due to poor performance which he blames in part on the artificial image that the food served at McDonald's is healthy.
Well, well, well, a little honesty from a top executive within the McDonald's empire certainly sheds some light on an issue that I have long had my concerns about. While it is understandable why McDonald's would so heavily promote their healthier menu options (although even that point is debatable considering all the sugar in these items) because of the negative publicity they have received in recent years regarding their role in the obesity epidemic, here we have the British CEO basically admitting the changes made to the menu are nothing more than window dressing.
But nothing has REALLY changed now, has it McDonald's?
The reality is that these "healthy" options at McDonald's are merely a fraction of their total sales figures. To illustrate this point, one internal report by the company found that for every salad sold at McDonald's, an incredible EIGHT double cheeseburgers are sold. Of course, putting the double cheeseburger on the "99 cent value menu" certainly doesn't hurt sales.
Add to that the fact that a "super-sized" Big Mac was recently added to the menu at the McDonald's restaurants in the UK and what you see is a company that is basically thumbing its nose at those of us who support having healthier choices available to us. Portion sizes have gone down a slippery slope at McDonald's and other fast food restaurants, although I am not in favor of forcing these restaurants to cut their portions or calories if the market doesn't want that to happen.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to focus on your core bestselling products as a business model, but this shell game McDonald's is playing with the consumer using their healthier menu as a bargaining chip is not impressing me one bit. If you wanna sell burgers and make that the product you earn a buck off of, then do it. But don't act like offering salads and apple dippers with sugary caramel sauce is endearing you to the health-conscious customers because it is not. I don't agree with Julia Havey wanting to sue your butt, but I think it's time to get off the fence on this issue, McDonald's.
Believe it or not, I am forced to go to McDonald's about once a week to get my wife Christine her favorite meal--a double cheeseburger with a large order of fries. Aside from the extremely slow, nonchalant, and very poor service that I almost always receive when I visit the restaurant, the disgusting stench that comes out of that place when I pull up to the window to pay for the "food" is enough to make me sick. I mean LITERALLY sick. But, I usually hold my breath long enough to get home with the high-carb processed junk food that makes my wife happy. She's lovin' it! UGH!
When McDonald's donated $2 million to childhood obesity research last month for the first time in the history of their company, I was cynical about their motive for making the gift. With such forthright comments from Easterbrook, my skepticism about why they did it is all but confirmed.
Keep that in mind the next time you think you're eating "healthy" at McDonald's. If I can ever get my wife over her addiction to their French fries and burgers, then I'll never darken the doors of their restaurants again for as long as I live.