The next step after McDonald’s apple deal

08/05/2011 08:49:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

There’s also a big difference between McDonald’s and its competitors. Nation’s Restaurant News research shows McDonald’s U.S. sales at $32.4 billion, more than three times that of No. 2 Subway, at $10.6 billion. Burger King, Starbucks and Wendy’s round out the top 5.

All of those chains have the potential to elevate fresh produce and make its a standard option in combo meals (except Starbucks), and I expect some quickly will in response to McDonald’s news.

Burger competitors can’t risk letting McDonald’s claim the high ground in fighting obesity in children by offering healthier fare.

This is where others in the fresh produce industry need to follow apples’ example.

For a fresh produce item to succeed like apples at McDonald’s, it needs to have high volume, consistent high quality and be able to be packaged so a $1 price point is still profitable, or close to it.

Often fresh-cut is the way to go, but other value-added products could also pull this off.

In the fruit arena, berries will have a tough time because of price, but an example could be the new product from Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, Berry Quick Snacks, which are washed and packed in 1.5-ounce single servings.

Grapes could also work in a small serving size in fast food. Value-added grape packs have been around for years but they haven’t reached a large audience.

On the vegetable side, carrots are a natural, and last fall, Bakersfield-based Bolthouse Farms showed the commodity could break into non-traditional markets with its Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food campaign.

No doubt some produce companies are already in talks with major QSR chains about such programs.

Apples have the first nationwide opportunity to prove fresh fruit can move past the tipping point to fast-food meal staple.

They should succeed, and others should follow.

gjohnson@thepacker.com

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