The hottest word in fast-food marketing right now is “fresh.”
In a recent report, Slate showed how more chains are trying to get customers to associate their ingredients and meals with ‘fresh’. Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) sells the freshness of its menus, and Yum Brands‘ (NYSE:YUM) Taco Bell is increasingly doing so. Joining in are Subway, Arby’s and Domino’s (NYSE:DPZ), the latter of which spent years re-establishing its pizza as fresh in the minds of customers.
Fresh is an abstract concept, though. With no set definition, companies can claim to serve fresh fast food without meeting any standard. There are no controls over supply chain, time until service, or calorie content with regards to using the label “fresh” on a product.
“I think it’s meaningless, almost, now,” Chipotle’s chief marketing office Mark Crumpacker told Slate. “You could claim that something very heavily processed was fresh, I guess. I don’t think there are any rules around ‘fresh.’ You can just say it with impunity. And I think lots of people do.”
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