Will parents and kids go for healthier Happy Meals?
Few restaurants are less associated with healthy eating than McDonald’s. But as American dining trends skew healthier, the chain is taking steps to revamp one of its most iconic offerings to make it better for its patrons.
In a press release last week, McDonald’s announced significant changes to its Happy Meal. By 2022, the chain intends to have at least half of its Happy Meals on menus worldwide contain 600 calories or fewer, with only 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, 10 percent from sugar and fewer than 650 grams of sodium. (Currently 28 percent of McDonald’s Happy Meal combos in 20 markets meet the guidelines.)
McDonald’s intends to achieve these goals by including a smaller portion of French fries with chicken nuggets, reducing the sugar in chocolate milk, featuring water as a beverage option and making cheeseburgers a by-request only offering. McDonald’s plans to have all U.S. Happy Meal combos meet the calorie, sugar and fat guidelines, and 78 percent meet the sodium guidelines, by June of this year.
This isn’t the first step McDonald’s has taken to move the Happy Meal in a healthier direction. The chain has begun offering options such as fruit, baby carrots and “Cutie” tangerines as Happy Meal sides, according to The Washington Post.
McDonald’s performance has suffered for years as U.S. consumers have grown to favor fast-casual dining options that offer greater variety and restaurants that they perceive as healthier.
The chain has made both operational improvements and changes to its non-kid’s menu in an attempt to upgrade its image. In 2016, McDonald’s began implementing touch screen-based ordering and table service to its locations. Some locations have also adopted a “gastropub-style” ingredients list along the lines of what one would find at a gourmet burger joint. McDonald’s also removed what it called “artificial preservatives” from its Chicken McNuggets.
At the same time, McDonald’s has tried to find ways to court a price-conscious customer while allowing franchisees to maintain their margins. Last year the chain released a “$1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu” which is the latest relaunch of the chain’s popular value menu.
- McDonald’s Announces Global Commitment to Support Families With Increased Focus on Happy Meals – McDonald’s
- Can a Happy Meal ever really be ‘healthy’? McDonald’s is trying its best – The Washington Post
- Will table service be a difference-maker for McDonald’s? – RetailWire
- Is McDonald’s backpedaling on fast casual with a low-price strategy? – RetailWire
- Is a tiered dollar menu the ticket for McDonald’s? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is McDonald’s going too far, or not far enough, with its proposed attempts at healthier offerings for kids? Will making Happy Meals healthier have a positive impact on the public perception of McDonald’s?