chew on this
Posted by Abe Sauer on March 8, 2012 12:14 PM
Americans are hate eating McDonald's.
Sales are up. Volume is up. More billions have been served. But Ad Age reports that internal tracking from "people close to the company" show that "McDonald's consistently ranks near the bottom in quality perception when compared with rivals." It seems that, like its food, McDonald's is rotting from the inside.
And it should be no surprise. Quietly, in store isles and book clubs, at churches and school bus stops, Americans are beginning to worry about their food.
As Ad Age notes, it's not that McDonald's brand is "bad." And it certainly is valuable (worth $35.6 billion and ranked 6th globally by Interbrand). It's that McDonald's brand is beaten down. Starting with Morgan Spurlock, McDonald's has recently suffered ammonia scandals and criticism for its pork slaughtering practices. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has made the brand its whipping boy and other celebrities have piled on.
Then there were a number of wildly popular Internet experiments to prove that McDonald's food is so processed it will not rot if left out for shocking periods of time. The video at top has over 800,000 views and there are numerous ones like it floating around the web. Another video claims to be a four-year-old McDonald's cheeseburger and fries, with no sign of mold.
Over 4.8 million served (that video).
One blogger at Serious Eats ran a more scientific experiment and concluded that McDonald's burger "doesn't rot because its small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there's no mold or bacterial growth."
This kind of negative food image for McDonald's comes up directly against the messaging of competitors who have emphasized the freshness and quality of their meat. A perfect example is Wendy's, which for years has emphasized that its beef is "never frozen."
From First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get kids to eat healthier to Walmart increasing commitment to organics, America may not be eating healthier but it is being hit on all sides with messaging about what is healthy.
From personal experience, in the last week I found myself in a number of conversations about the recent findings that processed meat may lead to pancreatic cancer. Each mention of the study came with people I had never heard talk about food quality or "health."
While America may not be ready to eat less, it certainly seems to be on the verge of at least caring about the quality of what it does eat. Other industries have already seen the consumer "quality" change.
Brewers have watched as Americans have increasingly turned away from corporate beers like Miller and Bud and to "quality" craft beers. The same may be about to happen to the food service industry. The nation's fastest growing fast food chain? Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a chain that servers "hand-formed" fresh burgers and fries "cooked in pure, no cholesterol, tasty peanut oil!"
So while the "slow food" movement is a major lifestyle lifestyle, what's taking place in the food consumer's mind might be called the Moderately Paced Food movement.