Is McDonald’s Ready to Toss the Salad Strategy?

Are McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) eaters these days more after the fast food chain’s healthy options, or the least expensive options? Recent reports point to the latter.

Amid increasing complaints from consumers and watchdogs such as Corporate Accountability International, McDonald’s has fought to beef up its healthy image. However, as the company has previously contended, it can offer all the less calorie-dense food it wants, but it still can’t make its customers buy it, evidenced by a report that demonstrates salads only accounting for 2 to 3 percent of U.S. restaurant sales for it. In comparison, the Dollar Menu generated 13 to 14 percent of sales.

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What is Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson’s new strategy? Rather than attempting to force-feed his customers their fruit and vegetables, he may direct his company to increase advertisements of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, while sneaking vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber slices, and shredded lettuce into the sandwiches — a technique perhaps stolen from his mother.

Meanwhile, the fast food giant is still competing with rivals Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW) and Wendy’s (NYSE:WEN) to introduce new products. While the McDonald’s menu has taken significant cuts, including the removal of its Angus burger, it is looking to introduce lower-calorie options such as egg-white sandwiches. Burger King and Wendy’s have also jumped onboard the health train, rolling out turkey and veggie burgers, along with new summer salads.

But McDonald’s isn’t ready to give up on the vegetables just quite yet. It first introduced salads to its menu in 1987, and though the company already tossed the Fruit & Walnut salad this year, it is holding on to its other greens for now.

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McDonald’s U.S. menus aren’t the only ones undergoing renovation. In an attempt to combat the company’s fourth monthly global same-stores sales decline since October, it has made it a goal to cater to all of its different consumers’ tastes. The global chain introduced pasta on its Italian menu last week and the infamous Mega Potato in Japan as well. These new items may not be low-calorie, but McDonald’s is confident they will better appeal to their customers’ palates.

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