by Alyssa Oursler | September 12, 2012 11:42 am
Keep an eye out next time you go to place an order at McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD). Today, the fast-food chain announced that it plans to begin posting the calorie count for all of its items on all of its menus.
The move comes as the company continues to struggle with lackluster growth and is looking to lure in customers any way possible.
In India, for example, that means appealing to the vegetarian population. Here at home, it means appealing to the many health-conscious Americans.
Panera (NASDAQ:PNRA), which is adding drive-thru options at many of its restaurants and has seen booming success this year, became the first major chain to post such information more than two years ago. And consumers, regulators and activists alike have been pushing for more to follow its lead, USA TODAY reports.
McDonald’s announcement is surprising, though, considering that the company has fought against such a requirement in the past. At the same time, it does fall in line with the chain’s recent overall push towards better nutritional quality and transparency.
McDonald’s was one of the first major chains to eliminate trans fat from its fries, offer fruit in kids’ meals and offer a variety of salads, for example.
And more recently, it also began shifting its menu away from beef, since chicken boasts not only fewer calories, but lower costs. It is also planning to add more seasonal fruit and veggie options, along with a possible egg-white breakfast sandwich on a whole grain English muffin.
Since McDonald’s is the leader of the fast-food gang, other chains often follow its lead. Burger King (NYSE:BKW), for one, also announced a limited-time-only menu with numerous new chicken offerings.
Activists are hopeful that Burger King, Wendy’s (NYSE:WEN) and Yum! Brands‘ (NYSE:YUM) Taco Bell and KFC, to name a few, will follow its lead in terms of calorie information as well.
Still, being a leader in an industry doesn’t — and hasn’t — guaranteed success. In fact, the chain’s many changes could be a direct response to its struggles. Same-store sales missed forecasts again last month, while July’s figures were the worst showing in almost a decade for the company.
As a result, investors haven’t been too hot on the stock. MCD is in the red nearly 10% since January, despite the fact that it offers a dependable dividend with more than a 3% yield.
It remains to be seen if McDonald’s many tweaks will be enough to offset the global slowdown. Maybe with new nutritional knowledge and more nutritional options, though, consumers and investors alike will start snacking on the popular chain once again.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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