McDonald's must sell the sizzle of fresh produce

09/21/2012 11:16:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstGive it all you got, McDonald's.

You say you want to provide healthier options to your customers, but there are skeptics among us. The Packer's coverage of the recent decision by the Golden Arches to put in place calorie tallies on menus also carried thoughts from observers about the prospects for the fast food chain adding future fruit and vegetable options.

David Just of Cornell University said that selling fruits and vegetables to the McNugget fan isn't so easy. But he concluded that the calorie labeling on menu may point to an opening for fruit and vegetable options.

Too often, salads at McDonald's have been there to "veto-proof" the choice for a group or family outing. You don't eat fries and double cheeseburgers anymore? Have you not heard of the fruit and walnut salad?

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University,  expressed some doubt about McDonald's dalliance with fresh produce in an email yesterday about the decision by McDonald's to put calorie counts on their menus.

Nestle wrote:

This is a smart move by a smart company to get out ahead of the pack on calorie labeling, which will be required for all chain restaurants nationally if the White House Office of Management and Budget ever gets around to releasing the FDA’s rules (it’s been sitting on them for months).  As for the healthy options, I’ll believe them when I see them and see how they are marketed. 

McDonald’s may introduce its version of healthier foods (apple slices with caramel syrup, for example) but if the foods don’t fly off the counters, it will ignore them, not market them, and let them fade away.   McDonald’s can then say “we tried but nobody bought it.”

 

I think McDonald's should invest more of its marketing muscle in healthy options. Make the #1 Extra Value Meal a cucumber and avocado salad, for starters.

McDonald's execs should not merely dangle the carrot of more "healthy options" in its nutrition progress report. Particularly targeting the aging baby boomers, the Golden Arches needs to sell the sizzle of fresh produce, not just the fact that it is on the menu.



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