We are seeing more and more fast food chains and even other restaurant chains coming up with alternative menus that are “healthier”. The breakfast food chains now have breakfast sandwiches with egg whites and instead of just beef or pork sausages and bacon, they are now offering a turkey alternative. Some lunch fast food chains are offering more and more salads and even turkey burgers.
We all remember when talk show giant, Oprah Winfrey, offered free Kentucky Grilled Chicken on her show and KFC restaurants across the country ran out of chicken! Well it turns out that when the “Oprah effect” wore out, most people went back to buying the friend chicken more than the grilled chicken.
Nima Samadi, an industry analyst at IBISWorld, traced fast food’s eagerness to introduce healthy items back to the experience of McDonald’s in early 2000s, after the release of the film “Super Size Me.” Director Morgan Spurlock’s [hit]documentary generated enough bad press to pose a serious threat to the chain — prompting McDonald’s to abolish the “supersize” option and add salads and, later, smoothies to its menu.
“Their reputation was down in the dumps. They were dealing with a lot of perception issues,” Samadi explained. “But by systematically rolling out healthy items, they’ve been able to change that a lot.”
The new menu items made consumers feel better about McDonald’s — but they continued, by and large, to order the same old Big Macs. Other chains that have since introduced healthy options have had similar experiences.
To be sure, some people do order the healthy options. They’re not total loss leaders. According to the NPD Group’s Bonnie Rigg, about 8 percent of all restaurant meals are motivated by health. That’s not a huge share, but if fast food chains were to cede it entirely and offer no healthy options, they would certainly lose some business. Rigg said the interest in healthy meals is higher (about 11 percent) among those over 65, a growing share of the American population. Partially for that reason, she expects sales of healthy-menu items to “grow strongly” through 2022.