350 underperforming McDonald’s restaurants across Asia and the US will soon close their doors thanks to the company’s two-year sales slump.
The future of the fast food giant looks bleak following their recent food safety scandals and reports that the stores are showing a drop in guest traffic across all major segments.
Food safety scandals in Japan have been a PR nightmare for the chain and have badly damaged the brand throughout Asia and the rest of the world. A human tooth was found in a customer’s carton of fries and on numerous occasions, foreign objects have been found in various meals. It was also reported that one young boy was injured after he bit into a piece of hard plastic while eating an ice-cream sundae.
OSI Group, a supply chain partner of McDonald’s, was also caught up in a serious food safety scandal when it was discovered that their staff were manually changing the use-by dates of chicken and beef products to extend their sell-by period.
A New Plan for Change
For years McDonald’s have time and again tried to change the public perception of their brand. Don Thompson, former CEO of McDonald’s, began the ‘Create Your Taste’ initiative which allowed the customer to choose the different toppings they wanted on their burger. Although the campaign appeared to give customers more control over what they were eating, it did not allow them to change the quality of the ingredients that went into it.
Mr Thompson reportedly believed that the best way to change the negative opinion of the brand, and in turn cause a rise in sales, was to change the way consumers thought about the food. Rather than changing their ingredients to make the food healthier, he wanted people to believe that what they were currently ordering wasn’t actually bad for them.
New McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, took over the top job last month and has already made some big changes to the iconic menu and arguably the fast food industry itself. By announcing their plan to phase out chickens treated with antibiotics and to only using milk that comes from cows not treated with rbST, an artificial growth hormone, Mr Easterbrook is moving towards a more ‘natural’ menu. He has also revealed that McDonald’s is set to announce more ‘meaningful’ changes to their menu this coming May.
Kale Smoothies on the Menu?
In another ground-breaking step towards healthier eating, McDonald’s restaurants in the US are reportedly looking to add kale to their menu. Despite promises earlier this year claiming that they would never add the cabbage-like vegetable to their menu, reports have been published hinting at a kale salad and kale smoothie option. Viewed as one of the healthiest veggies in the world, kale is not just known for being full of vitamins and minerals, but also for having anti-cancer properties.
“McDonald’s clearly aims to raise consumers’ perception of the quality of its food. Adding kale to the menu in some way could help be a step in this direction,” said analyst Mark Kalinowsk, reported CNN Money.
The recent drop in sales is another indication that McDonald’s new CEO has a long road ahead of him when it comes to getting the company back on track. Whether they will keep on their campaign to add healthier options to the menu or continue to close underperforming stores, it is undoubtedly an uneasy time for both the company and its shareholders.