McDonald’s Happy Meals will nix cheeseburgers starting in June
McDonald’s Corp. said Thursday that starting in June, only hamburgers and either four-piece or six-piece chicken McNuggets will be listed entrees for Happy Meals in the U.S., part of what the company says is a healthy overhaul of the children’s meal boxes.
Cheeseburgers will only be available by request.
In addition, kids-sized fries will replace small french fries in the six-piece McNugget meal, and chocolate milk will be reformulated to lower sugar content. While the change is taking place, chocolate milk will be taken off the menu, available only by request.
See also: Here’s why Goldman Sachs thinks the Winter Olympics are a risk to restaurants
The Happy Meal revamp is part of an effort to make the meals healthier by 2022 across 120 markets through a partnership with Alliance for Healthier Generation, a nonprofit that McDonald’s MCD, -0.14% partnered with beginning in 2013. The fast-food chain said at least half of meals listed on menus will be 600 calories or less and have 650 milligrams of sodium, and 10% of calories will come from saturated fat and added sugar. Right now, only 28% of meal combos meet this criteria in 20 major markets.
McDonald’s will also remove artificial flavors, colors from artificial sources and reduce artificial preservatives “where feasible.” Artificial preservatives have been taken out of chicken McNuggets in the U.S.
There will be greater availability to nutrition information, and the use of marketing to promote sales of recommended foods and beverages in those meals. The company said it will use technologies like kiosks and mobile apps to push fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and other healthy options.
Read: Restaurant sales fall in January as tax overhaul fails to boost spending
McDonald’s is accelerating the process in the U.S., bringing these changes by June, at which point all of the meal combos will be compliant with the nutrition guidelines for sugar and fat, all combos will have 600 calories or fewer, and 78% will comply with sodium guidelines.
Later this year, bottled water will become a featured Happy Meal beverage.
In December 2017, McDonald’s USA made the move to Honest Kids Appley Ever After organic juice drink from the previous apple juice, which has 45 fewer calories and half the sugar.
McDonald’s removed soda from the Happy Meal section of menu boards in 2013 and says there’s been a 14-percentage-point increase in the orders containing water, milk or juice. By 2017, more than half of Happy Meals ordered in the U.S. had milk, water or juice as the chosen beverage.
In addition to the meal changes, McDonald’s will expand its Happy Meal Readers program to more than 100 markets by 2019, making either a book or toy available in the meal box year-round. Since 2001, the company says it has distributed more than 370 million books.
Don’t miss: A cup of crypto: Starbucks and Dunkin’ both discussed bitcoin in their analyst days
McDonald’s has been focused on a number of initiatives over recent months, including the Experience of the Future, which includes table-service and self-serve kiosks, and the addition of all-day breakfast.
McDonald’s shares are down 4.4% for the last three months, but up 26.5% for the past year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.61% has gained nearly 21% for the last 12 months, and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.44% is up nearly 15%.