Posts Tagged ‘mcdonalds’

Healthy Menu Innovations

May 9, 2012

Does the restaurant industry have a responsibility to address health issues when designing a menu?  Perhaps not, however, faced with a growing interest in healthier menu choices among customers, smart companies are making changes.


At least by perception, fast food restaurants are the worst offenders.  In fact, research shows that 60% of American’s are less than thrilled with their lunch choices.  Often the culprit is limited time.  This is a market to be tapped by forward thinking chains.


Arby’s now offers a Market Fresh Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich and wrap.  This can be nutritionally improved by selecting whole-grain flat bread or honey wheat bread.  McDonald’s has made apples standard in their kid’s meals.  KFC even started serving roasted chicken rather than fried.


Often the solution is simple portion control.  When diners eat at upscale restaurants, they don’t expect large portions, they expect quality.  By offering smaller meals under more appealing labels, fast food restaurants may appeal to those who would prefer more nutritious options.


Of course, no matter how many options fast food restaurants provide, most customers will still choose foods they know are not healthy.  Lower salt and fat requirements mandated by the government is unlikely to make much of a difference.  The British Medical Journal showed that only one in six diners pay any attention to posted calorie and fat stats on menus.


Salt is the newest target to face criticism at restaurants.  As the flavor of salt is difficult to mimic, reduction of salt may be particularly hard to achieve, but the industry seems committed to make the change by offering selections lower in sodium.


Moe’s Southwest Grill is leading the movement and began using KCLean, a salt substitute, more than a year ago.  This product only contains 50% of the sodium found in regular salt.  The change was made with no publicity and there have been no complaints.  Other well known chains are now following suit.

Will Healthier Happy Meals Make a Happier McDonald’s?

April 20, 2012

Chances are you may have already noticed if you’ve ordered a Happy Meal. Many of the corporate restaurants are already testing out the new Healthy Happy Meal at various locations across the United States. The official changeover occurred on March 7, 2012.

No longer will you be asked if you want fries or apples. Instead, expect a smaller portion of fries with a smaller portion of apples without the caramel sauce, and choices of fat free milk and chocolate milk in your “healthy” Happy Meal.

Healthier Food Makes Happier Parents

For years, McDonald’s has been an infamous reputation of everything that is wrong with fast food. The question of whether they really are the most unhealthy fast food restaurant is insignificant compared to their potential role in the country’s obesity rate.

Expect a completely new image on the children’s menu. This includes new characters that endorse the healthier Happy Meal in a new ad campaign. This effort is ultimately to gain back the consumer confidence and have past customers return with their children.

Nutritional Advantages to McDonald’s New Changes

The changes to the new Happy Meal reduced calories. Not only have they revamped the children’s menu, but they have also made a pledge to reduce sodium in the whole menu by 15 percent by 2015. The calorie and saturated fats will be reduced significantly by 2020.  Not to mention the nutritional advantages of the new salads and fruit cups that they offer.

What does this mean to the restaurant industry? Many restaurants may have to struggle with the association of being an unhealthy choice for consumers. Some may have a massive amount of adjusting to do.

How do you weigh in on the new changes? Do you expect major fast food restaurant stocks to increase or decrease in 2012?

The 5 Best Restaurant Websites to Inspire You

December 13, 2011

It’s a peculiarity that some of the best restaurant websites aren’t necessarily for the best restaurants out there. In fact, some of the swankiest restaurants seem to be inversely related to some of the worst restaurant websites on the web. Restaurants are notorious for some of the worst web design on the Internet.

Why is that? Well, many of our chefs and restaurateurs aren’t exactly experts in web design. It seems that they sat down with a web consultant and were talked into some of the flashiest, noisiest, most over-the-top decisions in web design.

Fortunately, some restaurants are setting the bar a little higher. Take note as they lead the way in successful website design.

  1. 1.      Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts has some of the best social media experts and web designers on their side. Every step of the way, they get their customers to interact with them and listen to them carefully as they develop their menu.

  1. 2.      Wendy’s

Is it really any surprise that Wendy’s has some of the market’s share on superior web design? They are some of the first marketing geniuses after all.

  1. 3.      Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday’s overall website is designed well and really shows the restaurant off without too much flash.

  1. 4.      Pizza Express

Pizza Express has a simple design that really interacts with the user. It’s easy to navigate and their promotions are easily visible without being too in-your-face.

  1. 5.      McDonalds

We saved McDonalds for the grand finale. This is web design at its finest regardless of how you feel about the food. The navigation bar is easy to follow. The front page has a clean, simple appearance along with some really eye-catching graphics.

If you feel that your website has been lacking traffic or the bounce rate is too high, check these guys out to see what they are doing right. It’s not hard to stand out in the crowd as one of the best restaurant websites.

What’s Old is New Again

November 17, 2010

If you’ve been following the news recently (and who hasn’t, with the elections going on?), you probably know that not only was this recent election cycle the nastiest in history, but it also wasn’t the first time that these kinds of tactics were used (Thomas Jefferson was accused of being a murderer for example).

Well it seems that in our own neck of the woods, what was done years ago is being done again as well. A number of fast food restaurants have been feverishly adding new promotions and slogans that may sound familiar.  The reason they sound familiar is because they were used in the past.

McDonalds recently reintroduced their McRib sandwich to the menu after a long absence. and Little Caesars’ has decided that the old “Pizza! Pizza!” Line their mascot used to tout at the end of every commercial is going once again come back in style.

(Re)Enter the McRib

The McDonalds promotion is a limited time offer, bringing back the 1980s favorite until December 5th nationwide. Fans of the sandwich may recall that the last time you got the chance to taste a McRibs sandwich nationwide was back when the Republicans last clobbered the democrats (we’re sure some Tea Party person is responsible for the resurgence of the McRib) in 1994. (Although it was available in certain test markets a couple of years back.)

It had been offered as a tie-in with the Flintstones live action film released that year. McDonalds is also promoting their new/old sandwich by asking fans to tell them about their favorite story of the McRib in exchange for a chance to win a trip to taste the sandwich yet again, in Germany, the only country where you can buy the sandwich any old time you feel like it.

Pizza!Pizza!–Little Caesar’s Offers Double-Pie Promotion

In the case of Little Caesars’ the pizza chain has made a few changes to their Pizza! Pizza! Plans. Back in 1997, the last time the chain offered the promotion, two pizzas were offered for the price of one (or at least, the price of one from a competitor). In this new variation of the promo, the company plans to offer two rectangular shaped pizzas instead.

This time around you’ll get one pepperoni pizza and one Ultimate Supreme all for under ten bucks ($9.99). The deal is currently being offered only in the chains’ home town of Detroit. However they may expand it and offer the deal elsewhere next year the company reports.

The 6 Month Old McDonalds Happy Meal May Have Been a Bad Science Experiment

November 1, 2010

By now, you’ve likely heard about Sally Davies’ photographing a McDonald’s Happy Meal that was left out for six months and never decomposed. While the egg (McMuffin?) is certainly on McDonald’s faces over the whole experiment, it turns out that at least one scientist has announced a new experiment to check on the results that Ms. Davies found.

One Theory: The Hamburger Was Dry

The prevailing theory regarding the Happy Meal that refused to turn is that if it was extremely dry, it wouldn’t have been able to decompose. This is because mold and bacteria require moisture to grow.

Bad Science Charged

A blogger from the Serious Eats blog, J. Kenji Lopez Alt insists that the efforts of Ms. Davies constitute “bad science.” He charges that Ms. Davies (along with a number of others who are attempting to recreate the results of her experiment, such as Morgan Spurlock, who directed a documentary on the health effects of eating fast food every day called “Super Size Me” and Karen Hanrahan, who writes another blog, called Best of Mother Earth) is doing a one-sided experiment.

According to Mr. Kenji Lopez, they are not bothering to compare the results with other burgers to see if there is something special about the McDonalds food which makes it last so long as opposed to other homemade hamburgers and French Fries.

A New Experiment to Be Performed

He has decided that he is going to engage in a new scientific experiment where he will compare different hamburgers–including homemade hamburgers–to see if there is a difference between them.

He says he’s not against the idea of doing these experiments. He’s simply bothered by the “bad science” that has been used to draw these conclusions. Mr. Kenji Lopez has announced that he will be posting the results of his own experiment in a few weeks on his blog.

McDonalds in Trouble in France

September 24, 2010

The golden arches have been having some serious problems in the land of Lafayette and Napoleon and that spells trouble for McDonalds Corporation. European sales for the company over-all rose at a much slower rate than expected in August. Much of the blame can be attributed to the weakness of the brand in France, the company’s largest European market.

McDonalds’ French Earnings not Up to Expectations

The company recently announced that their August sales had increased only 2.2 percent in Europe from the sales numbers for the same time last year. Analysts had expected to see much stronger sales figures, offering estimates in the 5 to 6% range.

A McDonalds spokesperson released a statement blaming the French branches of the restaurant, where they said sales were “slightly negative.” The blame for the change was placed on the fact they had offered less promotions in the country than they had last year.

How has McDonalds been Faring in Europe?

The hamburger chain considers Europe to be an extremely important market, given that the company generates a full 40% of their sales on the continent. Burger King does not have any branches in France at all, and Wendy’s has no branches anywhere in Europe.

The recent news from France contrasts sharply with previous months — five out of the eight months of 2010 have experienced serious growth, amounting to some 5 percent growth for same store sales.

How Does McD Explain Their European Performance?

The company said simply that they believed they had learned an important lesson from the experience – that the French, like everyone else, need to consistently encounter branding and value messages in order to entice people to come in for a Happy Meal.

The decline for French branches of the chain was made all the more shocking given that this was the first time since November, 2005 that numbers have showed up thusly.

But the Sky isn’t Falling for McDonalds…

Analysts however have cautioned that it is far too soon to draw conclusions, saying that a one month decline in sales growth does not mean that the company has reached saturation. After all, companies large and small have a bad month on occasion.

Another issue which may have contributed to the sharp sales decline for August was a French decision to significantly lower the VAT (European sales tax) for restaurant meals to 5.5% from the previous 19.6% in July of 2009. Given that the bump in sales (due to the tax cut) in August 2009 was particularly robust, analysts believe that it may be unfair to expect to see growth like that again now that the dust has long since settled from that bonanza.


Golden Arches a Solid Investment

August 17, 2010

“I’ll have a Big Mac, fries and a not so great yield on my bonds please.” Welcome to McDonald’s in 2010. No, the golden arches are not offering to sell their customers a bond together with their Egg McMuffin.

However, they did recently issue a 10 year bond. The rate is impressive – for McDonalds at least, giving a measly 3.5% meaning the bonds may just outpace inflation, but certainly not by much.

What it Means for You

So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? It means that investors know a good thing when they see it. The house that Ronald built is a growing franchise with solid prospects for the future.
While the yield on the corporate bonds from McDonald’s may not be anything to write home about, the fact is that it is a solid investment where your money can be parked for the next few years with a reasonable assurance of actually keeping your money intact and even growing at a steady, albeit slow pace.

Bonds Are Not the Only Way to Invest

If the yield on the bonds isn’t quite your thing, you may wish to consider direct investment in the Golden Arches instead. McDonald’s stock is a solid investment right now, offering decent yields and a dividend that is (as of this writing) linked to inflation. That means that McD’s stock could be a solid investment.

Showing Growth Overseas

Certainly the company is showing good growth overseas, opening restaurants at a speedy pace in places as far away as Israel and India (in fact, according to reports, McDonald’s is the one and only American chain actually seeing growth in the Israeli market – a small one to be certain, but a solid indicator of the solidity of the brand name).

Steady Growth

In fact, if you look at the stock charts, you will see that McDonald’s stock has enjoyed mostly steady growth over the past year with only a small dip midyear breaking their progress toward the current value of the stock.

McDonalds to Be Investigated by Chinese Food and Drug Administration

August 5, 2010

Leave it to the Chinese to begin an investigation of an American company. After the scandal a few years ago with tainted baby formula and dog food, China started taking things very seriously when it comes to food safety and they have now opened an investigation in food practices of McDonalds restaurants operating in the country.

The investigation surrounds two chemical compounds that are used in McDonald’s McNuggets. The story was first broken by the American CNN cable news channel, explaining how McNuggets include two chemicals, one, tertiary butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ is based on petroleum (yes, the same stuff you fill your car up with at the gas station) and is used as a preservative for the chicken treats. The other chemical in question, dimethylpolysiloxane is commonly used in the children’s toy Silly Putty. It is an antifoaming agent which is also commonly found in women’s cosmetics such as facial cream and mascara.

While McDonalds does not deny that the chemicals are present in their Chicken McNuggets, they do say that in the tiny amounts that they are used, the chemicals are completely harmless. Both the United States and Chinese Food and Drug Administration do allow the chemicals in certain amounts (and the chemicals are used in American Chicken McNuggets as well), however the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, unlike their American counterparts have called for an official investigation into the food safety of the McDonalds staple food.

The chemicals are typically permitted to be present in amounts of 10 mg per kilogram for the dimethylpolysiloxane and 0.2 grams per kilogram for tBHQ.

A McDonalds spokesman speaking to Bloomberg News said that the additives were well within the legal limits and that they were perfectly harmless. According to the same Bloomberg News report, McDonalds has ambitious plans for China, having already opened 1,146 stores with plans for 2,000 stores by the year 2013.

Shares of McDonalds Corporation are up more than three points since the beginning of July indicating that investors are clearly not concerned by this latest minor controversy.