Mamma Mia! McDonald’s Has Italian On Its Mind

Ronald McDonald is taking on an Italian flair, and not all Italians are happy about it.

According to The GuardianMcDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCD) announced Thursday that it would partner with Parma-based pasta maker Barilla to offer a pasta salad on its menu starting Friday. The pasta salad, priced at 4.90 euros, is described as pennette pasta with “a balanced and skillful mix of turn, tomatoes, peppers, capers and olives, seasoned with a pinch of oregano and salt.” The uncharacteristic addition to the burger chain’s menu is part of the company’s attempt to cater more to its global customers and avoid standardized menus.

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The move appeals to the 136-year-old pasta powerhouse, too, which is looking to expand into new markets. The company from Emilia-Romagna has been in the same family for four generations. The Guardian explains that Peitro Barilla opened his pasta and bread shop in Parma in 1877 and the company is still controlled by his grandsons, who have recently taken inroads into the US market, with sights now set on Asia.

Robert Masi, chief executive of McDonald’s Italia, said the McDonald’s and Barilla partnership was “a key step on the process of embracing the tastes, flavors, and habits of the Italians.”

The problem is, not all Italians are crazy about the idea of the fast-food chain Italianising itself, which is less surprising when one considers the stark differences between a company priding itself on its “fast food,” and the country that spawned the Slow Food movement. The Corriere della Sera, Italy’s daily newspaper, explained the alliance as “two worlds colliding: quality and speed, tradition and modernity.”

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Nevertheless, McDonald’s recent innovation to its menu comes at a time when the company is struggling to combat falling sales. The company recently reported its fourth monthly global same-stores sales decline since October, and is starting to pull out all the stops. While pennette pasta is going on Italy’s menu, the Mega Potato is going on Japan’s. What country is next? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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