It couldn’t feel more like the end of summer here in New York. The city is empty on the weekends, the subways are stifling, and the sunsets over the Hudson River are long and colorful.
But if you asked me to read our recent special reports and guess what time of the year it was, summer would be my last choice. I might guess spring, with the feverish spring cleaning we’re seeing from newly designed steakhouses, or I might guess fall, with the back-to-school-like focus McDonald’s is putting toward its menu. The lazy days of summer are definitely not represented. The restaurant industry is busy.
And we’re busy, too. Earlier this month, Nation’s Restaurant News spent a day at McDonald’s headquarters to learn about the chain’s new approach to its supply chain and menu. NRN was the only business-to-business restaurant media brand in attendance. We were given access to new menu offerings, whether in test, regional or national, and to the executives looking to change how McDonald’s sources and supplies its items. In this report, NRN senior financial editor Jonathan Maze breaks down his visit and analyzes McDonald’s new approach. For a chain built on Egg McMuffins, drive-thrus and Dollar Menus, the changes underfoot feel different, not just more of the same. The work is about a global business and brand shift — the use of real butter, a change in the salads’ lettuce mix, and a commitment to the use of cage-free eggs.
“We’re about making purposeful change,” said Marion Gross, head of McDonald’s North America supply chain. “We’ve got a committed attitude. We want to be better.”
It isn’t easy to change a brand image, especially one as strong and global as McDonald’s. It also isn’t easy to satisfy a core customer looking for inexpensive burgers and fries while building a new customer eager to grab a spinach salad and top a chicken sandwich with guacamole. Time will tell whether McDonald’s can pull this off.
One report in this issue that does scream summer is the menu feature on teas, particularly iced teas, beginning on page 28. With soda sales at a 30-year low and consumer consumption of tea rising, NRN senior food and beverage editor Bret Thorn showcases unique ways to make use of the summertime staple, from on tap to sparkling.
Drink it up, enjoy the rest of the summer and we’ll see you in the crisp fall.