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Tom Hudson: Tom Hudson: McDonald’s stepping up to healthier-food plate

Can a half dozen fewer ingredients help revive McDonald’s? The fast food giant has seen sales slow Americans’ appetites for fresh and healthier fare has increased. The drop off has cost one CEO his job and cost investors money.

By the end of the new week more than 14,000 McDonald’s in the U.S. will be cooking a grilled chicken sandwich with a simpler recipe. A company representative said the new grilled chicken would have a dozen ingredients, six fewer than the old recipe. Most of the stuff that will not be included is stuff Americans probably don’t have in their cupboards — like sodium phosphates and maltodextrin. The chicken will be cooked in a combination of olive and canola oil instead of liquid margarine. The sandwich will get a new name, too: Artisan Grilled Chicken.

The recipe change is part of a much bigger strategy to stay competitive. In the fourth quarter, sales at McDonald’s open for more than a year in the U.S. fell by 1.7 percent. The company blamed “ongoing broad-based challenges, including sustained competitive activity.” McDonald’s recently announced it would experiment with serving breakfast all day at some restaurants. It will sell chickens raised without antibiotics. Its milk will come from cows that have not been given artificial growth hormones.

McDonald’s revolutionized fast food. It has been late to the fast casual restaurant trend where fresh is as important as fast to diners and investors.

Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts The Sunshine Economy on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.

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