McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report struggles with offering healthy choices. It has offered them throughout the years with a variety of salads being introduced, not selling well, and quietly falling off the menu.
McSalad Shakers that it debuted in 2000, for example, offered three different salads served in a cup that customers were apparently supposed to shake, but they never made much of a mark before being replaced in 2003 by McDonald’s Premium Salads, which also failed.
There was also 1991’s lamentable McLean Deluxe, a low-fat take on a hamburger.
“To make the burger so low-fat, the company replaced the fat content with water. The recipe called for carrageenan — a seaweed extract — to bind the water to the beef. Beef made up only 90% of the patty, and water and carrageenan made up the remaining 10%. Despite the addition of “natural” beef flavor additives, the result was a dry failure of a burger that was later called ‘the McFlopper’.”
It’s possible, perhaps likely, that these products suffered from design and execution failures, but it’s also possible that people looking to eat healthily simply don’t turn to McDonald’s. Despite that, the chain keeps trying to go after a broader customer base, which led to its Beyond Meat (BYND) – Get Beyond Meat, Inc. Report partnership, the McPlant.
That product, which has done well in some markets around the world, has underperformed in a 600-restaurant test in the U.S. That could be because demand for a plant-based hamburger that’s not vegan (it has cheese and mayonnaise), that gets cooked on the same grill as it’s beef-based counterparts remains limited or it might simply be because people looking for healthier choices skip McDonald’s.
The Golden Arches, or at least a long succession of its leadership, still want this audience and they’re trying again, this time with a vegan “burger,” albeit on a limited basis.
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The Big Yam? The Yam Mac? McDonald’s Tests a Yam Burger
Blame the Netherlands? Thank the Netherlands?
“With an impending meat tax in the Netherlands that will make hamburgers up to three times more expensive, fast-food chain McDonald’s is looking for ways to make its menu more affordable. McDonald’s has partnered with Dutch multinational food company Eosta to develop a yam-based vegan burger, which is expected to hit the fast-food chain’s menu this summer, albeit only in the Netherlands Veg News reported.
Dubbed the YAMburger by Eosta, the patties contain purple yam, protein, and a small amount of fat. YAMburgers only cost 50 cents per patty to produce which could be part of their appeal to the fast-food chain.
“Actually, you hardly need to add anything to make it tasty,” Eosta CEO Volkert Engelsman said in a statement. “Of course, you do need an organic bun, organic sauce, and fried onions.”
The early tests will take place in the Netherlands, a country that was also one of the early McPlant testing locations.
Why Does McDonald’s Want to Be McHealthy?
McDonald’s wants to be everything to everyone. It has succeeded with non-meat sandwiches in countries where that has been better embraced than that concept has in the U.S. You could argue that the McPlant rollout was for show given that it wasn’t offered as a certified vegan product as it has been in parts of Europe (the company vehemently disagrees with that notion).
But, despite its many failures to offer healthier choices like milk instead of soda and apple slices instead of fries in Happy Meals, the chain keeps trying to find a way to reach customers not looking for fried, meat, or a combination of the two. That might be a fruitless endeavor in the U.S., but the chain’s global markets have been more accepting, which might someday lead to Americans chowing down on a YAMburger (unless its get stolen by the YAMburglar).