McDonald’s: ‘we must do a better job talking about food quality’

McDonald’s needs to improve the way it talks about the quality of its food to counter the negative perceptions that continue to dog the company’s reputation, according to its global brand chief Kevin Newell.


McDonald’s comes under constant criticism that its food is poor quality and offers poor nutritional value. It has introduced a number of initiatives to address this including adding QR codes on food packaging in the Olympic Park to give access to nutritional information via smartphone, and the roll out of calorie information on menu boards in UK restaurants.

In the US McDonald’s introduced a specific under-400 calorie menu board to help customers make healthier choices. In Canada, McDonald’s has introduced a “YourQuestions” campaign which sees it address questions posed by consumers, in a bid to dispel myths about the chain’s food.

Speaking at the fast food chain’s biggest ever restaurant at the London Olympic Park on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, Kevin Newell, McDonald’s global chief brand officer told Marketing Week: “The biggest challenge we have is getting the real story about McDonald’s food out in the marketplace.

“We’ve done a pretty good job about talking about the quality aspects of our food, and we’re extremely proud of our food, but we have to work a little bit harder in getting that story out because there are a lot of other stories that counter that and they are not scientific or fact based.”

McDonald’s has introduced number of new fruit and vegetable items to its menu including kiwi fruit on a stick and carrot flowers. It claims that in the past two years customer purchases of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products as part of Happy Meals have more than quadrupled in the markets that make up the majority of it global business. It also claims that Happy Meals can include fruit, vegetables or low-fat dairy in more than 95% of its restaurants worldwide.

Speaking at the same event, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said: “We want to help kids get into a routine of making healthy choices of balancing eating by making the right choices and those choices being accessible to them. Mums tell us ‘if anyone can get kids to eat more fruit and veg – that anyone would be McDonald’s. We take that very seriously.”

Earlier this week McDonald’s faced fresh accusations that its sponsorship of the Games “undermines children’s health”.

The Obesity Games report by The Children’s Food Campaign called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to re-examine its sponsorship deals and claimed that McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s sponsorships are “counter-productive to good public relations and to a positive health legacy” of the Olympics.

See a video Q&A with McDonald’s UK CEO Jill McDonald here

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