The future of fast food is getting interesting. With consumers seeking healthier food options—and easily finding them—chains like McDonald’s are scrambling to stay relevant.
McDonald’s is reportedly now serving kale in select Southern California locations, despite taking aim at the trendy leafy green vegetable in a recent ad campaign:
“All vegetarians, foodies and gastronauts kindly avert your eyes. You can’t get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa,” the announcer said as images of McDonald’s burgers filled the screen. After the screen closes in on the layer of lettuce on the burger, the announcer says: “Nor will that ever be kale.”
But instead of replacing the burger lettuce with kale, the chain is in fact adding kale to its menu as part of the turnaround effort to boost its lagging sales. The new menu items being tested include breakfast bowls, which feature spinach and kale. The bowls come with eggs and either turkey sausage or chorizo, and will sell for around $4.
According to Reuters, Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski said McDonald’s restaurants in Canada will also begin offering three salads made with kale.
The news comes as McDonald’s also recently announced plans to close 700 of its stores around the world in 2015 because of slow sales. Efforts to revive sales have been slow going and so far, strange marketing efforts have been fruitless.
“Pay With Lovin’” was a campaign McDonald’s kicked-off during the 2015 Super Bowl in hopes of enticing customers. During the campaign (which led up to Valentine’s Day), select customers were given the opportunity to pay for their food without money—by smiling, calling their parents or giving someone a hug, as the commercial demonstrated.
McDonald’s will be repositioning and trimming down its menu, “which has slowed service and failed to keep pace with growing demand for fresher, less processed food,” reports Reuters.
Kale is also a new menu item at Starbucks, which recently launched kale smoothies via its new acquisition, Evolution Juice. Pressure to stay relevant as consumers are seeking healthier and fresher options from either local outfits or cleaner fast food chains like Chipotle, has the food service industry scrambling for fresh ideas. Panera Bread just announced the removal of 80 additives that will mean replacing more than 150 ingredients on its menu.
Chipotle also just announced that its menu is now 100 percent GMO-free, aside from the Coca-Cola products, which it’s actively working on replacing.
The soda brands themselves are also battling waning consumer interest. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have introduced stevia-sweetened beverages, and PepsiCo recently announced that it was replacing aspartame in Diet Pepsi with Splenda, which is made from sucralose. Though still an artificial sweetener, sucralose is less controversial than aspartame, which has been linked to a number of health issues from headaches and tinnitus to behavioral issues and cancer.
Earlier this week Wendy’s announced that it will be adding an organic iced tea option from Honest Tea ( a Coca-Cola owned business) to its permanent menu. Retailing for about .30 cents more than its regular tea products, Wendy’s is confident consumers will embrace the organic option.
Image via Consumerist