Perhaps taking a cue from Chipotle (NYSE:CMG), today McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) officially announced a new initiative to offer healthier items on its menus over the next decade. President Jan Fields announced the company’s “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices,” earlier today, saying, “McDonald’s will always try to do the right thing, and we know we can help make a difference in our communities. The commitments we’re announcing today will guide the future evolution of our menu and marketing.”
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The commitments are organized in the form of three major initiatives, outlined in a PR report issued by the company.
1. Championing children’s well-being: McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) will automatically include produce or a low-fat dairy option in every Happy Meal and promote options that meet the rigorous Council of Better Business Bureaus Food Pledge nutrition standards by Q1 2012. The impact will be an estimated 20 percent reduction in calories of the most popular Happy Meals, also reducing fat in the meal. In 2012, McDonald’s will also raise nutrition awareness among children and parents through national marketing initiatives. The company will promote nutrition messages in 100 percent of its national kids’ communications, including merchandising, advertising, digital and the Happy Meal packaging. McDonald’s will also provide funding for grass roots community nutrition awareness programs.
2. Expanding and improving nutritionally-balanced menu choices: By 2020, McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) will reduce added sugars, saturated fat and calories through varied portion sizes, reformulations and innovations. Starting with the already completed 10 percent reduction in the majority of our chicken items, McDonald’s will reduce sodium an average of 15 percent across its national menu of food choices by 2015.
3. Increasing customers’ and employees’ access to nutrition information: McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) will expand new in-restaurant, website and mobile communications, and marketing vehicles, making access to this information even easier. To begin, McDonald’s is now making available its first mobile app so customers can access nutrition information on-the-go.”
Recently we reported that the company has been looking to boost margins on sales of specialty beverages such as its Frozen Lemonade, smoothie drinks, and McCafe coffees, so perhaps the company is looking to offer a wider outlay of healthier snacks in conjunction to further entice weight-watching customers. Also, we might wonder whether these healthier menu items will command a premium in price for customers? Or maybe the cutback in “portion sizes” will help the company trim costs? If so this would represent a savvy marketing move from the brainpower at Mickey D’s, but its still a win-win for everyone, save MCDs major competition.
Reaction to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, with even the first lady jumping in to praise the home of the golden arches for its newfound commitment to healthy eating. “McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) has continued to evolve its menu, and I look forward to hearing about the progress of today’s commitments, as well as efforts in the years to come.”