In today's Weekly Media Mix, another bee problem, plus a man steals 42,000 pounds of cheese
The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.
Wylie Dufresne opens Alder, revealing a menu of chicken liver toast, fried quail, and a sea buckthorn cocktail. Whether these will be literally interpreted has yet to be seen. [Grub Street]
A man is charged with attempting to sell 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese, which he stole from a Wisconsin cheese company. He was selling it at a rest stop. [Gawker]
A former chef of the Virginia Executive Mansion has been indicted for embezzlement. [ABC]
Craft brewers are asking for a tax cut, saying it will help them hire more workers and brew more beer. [NY Times]
McDonald's has reportedly realized they're not too popular with the 18- to 32-year-old crowd, so they're desperately trying to woo them back. [AdAge]
A gigantic brown trout caught in New Zealand weighed 42 pounds and 1 ounce, 3 pounds shy of a world record. [Grind TV]
McDonald’s cuts its premium sandwiches line, Signature Crafted Recipes, after two years
Some of your favorite late night cravings may soon disappear from the menu at McDonald’s. The food giant reportedly plans to slash more than half a dozen menu items offered between midnight and 5am. Buzz60
McDonald’s is dropping its much-ballyhooed line of premium sandwiches.
The Signature Crafted Recipes launched in May 2017 and included Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon and Maple Bacon Dijon, all around or above the $5 mark.
"Based on (customer) feedback, we’ll move away from the Signature Crafted Recipes line on our national menu," McDonald's said on its website. "Our fresh new Quarter Pounder line-up brings customers more of the craveable, customizable and delicious tastes they love."
When the artisanal line was unveiled two years ago, Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald's USA, said the menu additions would include "more food-forward ingredients" and appeal to millennials.
The McDonald's Signature Crafted Recipes line are more upscale. (Photo: McDonald's)
At the time, experts theorized that Signature Crafted Recipes were the company's attempt to compete against fast-casual restaurants, companies that serve more upscale food but without table service, and so-called better-burger chains.
According to Robert Derrington, senior restaurant analyst at the Telsey Advisory Group, a brokerage firm in New York, Signature Crafted Recipes foods weren't selling well, plus in March 2018, McDonald's upped its game by introducing non-frozen meat in its Quarter Pounders.
"They've had success with fresh beef," he said. "It appears they don’t need to supplement the higher end of their menu. Instead, they can do that successfully with their core products with updated ingredients."
Peter Saleh, managing director at the New York brokerage BTIG, wasn't surprised that the upscale sandwiches line-up was getting the ax, likening it to the Angus Third Pounder, introduced in 2009 and cut in 2013.
"They have a pretty long history of premium items that haven't really worked on their menu," he said. The buzz "has kind of dwindled and what they’re left with was a platform that's not resonating with the guests in terms of driving sales."
Saleh added that Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches took too much time to make, a problem, when so much of the business McDonald's does, is through the drive-thru.
Sausage and egg McMuffin
In April, the fast-food chain unveiled the recipe for one of its best-selling menu items, the sausage and egg McMuffin.
According to McDonald’s, all you need is five ingredients to make the sandwich at home.
The first step is to toast your English muffin until it’s “golden brown”. Once you’ve completed that, you’ll turn to the sausage meat, which the fast-food chain says should be seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper and then shaped into a ball.
“Flatten into patty shapes and cook under a preheated grill for six to seven minutes on each side,” the restaurant says.
For the eggs, McDonald’s suggests brushing the inside of a metal ring with oil and placing it inside a frying pan - which will allow home-chefs to get the shape of the eggs.
The next step is to pour in enough water to cover the base of the pan and bring to a boil.
“Crack the eggs into the rings, cover the pan and cook for two to three minutes.”
After cooking the sausage and egg, you’ll get to the assembly step, which requires you to layer the patty and the egg on top of a slice of cheese on the English muffin.
McDonald's consumers call Chick 'N' Cheese campaign 'overmarketed'
McDonald's Singapore shared a promotional video post on its official Instagram page, describing its new Chick 'N' Cheese burger as taking customers' "tastebuds to the next level". The Instagram post has garnered over 25,000 views, 2275 likes and 47 comments at the time of writing. However, not all netizens seem to reciprocate the positivity of its Instagram caption. The post dedicated to the "Sweet tomato chilli jam" in its Chick 'N' Cheese burger met with comments that said the burger was "over marketed" with some netizens claiming that the meal was "not up to expectations".
More comments on the post shared how the customers were "speechless" and that they felt that TikTok influencers who were used for the ad were "con artists" given the burger didn't live up to their expectations. The social media campaign #LevelUpwithMcd on Tiktok, that is in line with Mcdonald's Chick 'N' Cheese burger, has called Tiktok users to "Come duet with us and - rap, sing, dance, or show off anything you're proud of. Submit your entries with hashtag #LevelUpwithMcd". The main TikTok post by SGAG SG has received 24 reposts in total, 19 of which are duets.
In another Instagram post of an image of the Chick 'N' Cheese burger, the 180 comments it received largely followed a common theme of "disappointment". A netizen said the food tasted somewhat "expired" and was accompanied with many other customers who had their own personal reviews to share.
In an email to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesman said that the #LevelUpwithMcD campaign was created to inject fun an excitement. He also said that the purpose of the campaign was to "appeal to the tastebuds of our Millennials and Gen Z audience". The campaign was created in collaboration with creative agency Leo Burnett and communications agency Golin Singapore and will also be running on television, online media such as YouTube, and print as well. He declined to comment on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's queries on consumer sentiment.
Adding to the comments that Mcdonald's has been receiving, customers in Singapore have started sharing pictures of burgers that have not been stacked properly via an Instagram page. The Instagram account named "McSenget" has a following count of 8831 followers as of today, with 121 posts of McDonald burgers that were not stacked according to the customer's liking. The word "Senget" is a Malay word that translates to "tilted" according to Google translate. The Instagram account has made its way to different news media websites.
Prior to this, McDonald's has partnered up with 21st century global pop icons BTS to collaborate on a one-of-a-kind menu “tour”. The global tour that will hit Singapore on 27 May, and will be available until 9 June.The BTS Meal will be available globally in nearly 50 countries. Other markets in Asia include: the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. This is the first time McDonald’s is bringing its celebrity signature orders program out of the US. This customised BTS Meal includes the McDonald’s chicken nuggets, fries, a drink, and Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces inspired by popular recipes from McDonald’s South Korea.
According to Meltwater's data, the news of McDonald's partnering with the iconic K-pop boy band generated a lot of online buzz. Over the past two days, online mentions of BTS hit 8.87k, with the top key words being "BTS meal" and "McDonald's". Among the various reactions online, the "love" reaction was the highest at 404, followed by "joy" reaction at 176 and "surprise" reaction at 118. Netizens also stated their support for the partnership, with many saying they will purchase the meal.
Only 1 in 5 millennials have tried a McDonald’s Big Mac
Millennials! They’re not having sex ! Or are they ? They’re hated by other generations but beloved by thinkpiece headlines across the internet. And according to McDonald’s , they’re not eating Big Macs.
According to a memo from a top McDonald’s franchisee , only one in five millennials have tried a Big Mac, the fast food empire’s flagship burger. We imagine some Gen Xer is shaking their fists at the sky at this very moment, screaming “back in my day, we ate Big Macs! So many Big Macs! All the Big Macs!”
McDonald’s burger sales overall have flatlined over the past few years, and before that only grew at a rate of 1 to 2 percent annually. A study from earlier this year showed that fast-food consumers prioritize quality of products over “healthy” options, and McDonald’s isn’t exactly known for its fresh ingredients. Establishments like In-N-Out Burgers, which boasts never-frozen products, beat out McDonald’s on the quality front, and that’s what consumers care about.
McDonald’s has built its fast-food empire on the tenets of low cost and speed, and that just isn’t going to cut it anymore. The corporation has put together a “sensory panel” to refocus on flavor and is exploring alternate cooking strategies. McDonald’s is also considering taking a page out of In-N-Out’s book by switching from frozen to fresh beef, although a change like that will likely take years to implement. And goals like that are also at odds with McDonald’s goal delivery time: The powers at be believe that a customer shouldn’t have to wait longer than a minute and a half after ordering to have their burger in their hands.
Plus, recent attempts to offer higher-quality burgers at a higher price haven’t panned out for McDonald’s. That screaming, fist-shaking Gen Xer might recall the Arch Deluxe, a burger with a potato-flour bun and mayonnaise-mustard sauce introduced in the mid-1990s that cost 32 cents more than a Big Mac and never took off. It was phased out in 1998. A McDonald’s line of Angus beef burgers similarly failed in 2009.
Meanwhile, other burger companies like Five Guys, Smashburger, and Shake Shack are all growing much faster than McDonald’s, especially among millennials . Smashburger is but a speck in the fast burger industry compared to McDonald’s, with only 370 outlets across 37 states and 9 countries, but the percentage of millennials who visited Smashburger more than once a month grew by 11 percentage points from the end of 2013 to the second quarter of this year, while McDonald’s saw only a 6.5 percentage point increase. As McDonald’s experiments with new strategies and products, it will have to keep millennials—who have overtaken baby boomers as the nation’s largest demographic group—in mind. And letting them design their own burgers, as the New Zealand McDonald’s branch discovered, is not the answer .
General Mills Courts Millennials by Bringing Back ‘80s Cereal Formulas
Cereal was one of the first things millennials murdered on their endless killing spree into adulthood. Either they were too enamored with avocado toast, too put off by the sugar, or too busy to eat breakfast at all. For a while major cereal brands tried to appeal to their health-conscious tastes by removing artificial ingredients, but that didn’t work, so now General Mills is reversing course. The company is rereleasing Trix, Golden Grahams, Cookie Crisp and Cocoa Puffs with a “permanent return of the 80s taste.”
In a press release, Jennifer Jorgensen, vice president of marketing for General Mills cereal said “Our fans crave a taste of nostalgia — and, while these four cereals have always remained popular, we’ve answered their requests and brought back the taste they remember from childhood.” With these new old recipes, Trix will go back to having wacky fruit shapes, Golden Grahams will again be made with actual honey, and Cookie Crisp and Cocoa Puffs will have more “chocolate taste,” whatever that entails. Food Dive notes that millennials are increasingly driven by nostalgia as they round into middle age. Extra-sugary Trix — along with General Mill’s upcoming partnership with Saved by the Bell’s Mario Lopez — is as good a distraction as any for the fact that they’ll never be able to afford to retire.
Desi recipes are going global: Who's building the McDonald's of Indian food?
Jasper Reid is the founder of International Market Management that has brought Wendy's and Jamie Oliver restaurant chains to India. He studied English Literature at Oxford and has worked in airlines, consulting and investment banking. A keen cook and gardener, he lives in New Delhi with his wife Megan and twin daughters.
Every one eats. People may not sing, wear socks or watch TV. But they must eat.
This truth underpins investors' abiding interest in food services. And the sector has a second big advantage: it's a cash business. Customers pay first and providers settle expenses later. Money in, money out, and not the other way round.
But how is the sector making out in India? Is the explosion in cuisines and concepts bringing investor bounty?
The answer depends on the type of investor. Food services are dominated by small firms. Why? Because food is often local and there are few barriers to entry. All you need is a cooking pot and a customer.
How the small players fare depends upon desire. Last week I ate samosas from a Delhi street-seller whose entire family were operators: the son made the dough, mother filled, father fried. Fresh, yummy, superb value and a long line. This family cannot afford to fail and herein lies their secret of their success.
Lesson one for investors: back managers with true commitment. Hungry managers + hungry customers = IRR.
Then there are 'lifestyle' gigs set up by folk with big dreams and friendly finance. These are proliferating as people eschew traditional career paths or indeed as the traditional paths disappear.
But the grim fact is that these ventures usually flop. After the fun, food services mean process and consistency: all grind no glamour. At this point, only those with grit and motivation kick on.
Many investors have created wealth from food but seldom overnight. The bar chain Social is now rocking India but its founders are graduates from the culinary school of hard knocks. In London, Hawksmoor, the super-successful steak chain, happened only after investors failed, then failed again.
The bar chain Social is now rocking India but its founders are graduates from the culinary school of hard knocks. (Image: socialoffline.in)
A big factor in success is timing. Bars struggled in Delhi's Connaught Place and then found their mojo as middle-class millennials partied on. High-end Indian cuisine was first limited to fancy hotels and then came Indian Accent and an outbreak of glitzy, expensive eateries. It became delicious fare for customers and investors.
In the mass market, India suffers from cyclical over-supply but is comparatively underpenetrated. What this means for scale players, eg Haldiram's, Burger King, Wendy's, Starbucks, is the potential to create investment Alpha. Put simply, Alpha promises bonanza valuations for brands with long-term potential.
But equity valuation through the capital markets is not for the faint-hearted. Burger King, for example, requires a bare minimum of 300 sites to break even and funds an annual overhead of 45 crores. Superior returns can thus only come from equity realising supercharged values.
In our humble experience, before investors get aroused by valuation, the priority is beefing up P+Ls and figuring out the right economic model. This takes time, experience, experimentation, luck and comes with inevitable setbacks.
Laying solid foundations is the secret to food services success but management and capital must agree the returns horizon. Lack of agreement can be fatal and the highway to investor happiness is littered with the forgotten corpses of brands who drove too fast.
What about the future? What food should investors fund? Here are some tips for 2017:
- Indian brands and recipes going global. Who's building the McDonald's of Indian food?
- Disruptive models: restaurants without seats and seats without restaurants
- The rise of herbivorous butchers and innovative vegetarianism. Go green. Eat green
But buyers beware. Food services is a tricky game. As a wise man said, restaurants are the retail equivalent of making shoes to order every day with perishable ingredients in a town famous for shoe-making.
Millennials Are Becoming McDonald's Biggest Threat
Millennials are becoming McDonald's biggest crisis in more than a decade.
People in their 20's and 30's are favoring fast-casual joints like Chipotle, Five Guys, and Panera Bread, writes Julie Jargon at The Wall Street Journal.
" Increasingly, younger diners are seeking out fresher, healthier food and chains that offer customizable menu options for little more than the price of a combo meal," Jargon writes.
This could cast a shadow on McDonald's future business, which has already been declining or flat this year. The company recently announced that it was replacing its top U.S. executive for the second time in two years.
The number of 19 to 21-year-olds visiting McDonald's monthly has fallen by 13% since 2011, WSJ writes, citing Technomic.
Meanwhile, the number of 22 to 37-year-olds visiting the chain has been flat.
Attempts by McDonald's to connect with this age group have largely flopped.
The chain spent two years innovating the McWrap, a chicken concoction with fresh vegetables that was supposed to challenge Subway.
But McWrap sales have reportedly been disappointing.
McDonald's has also begun testing technology that would allow customers to customize burgers, similar to Five Guys or Smashburger.
McDonald's isn't the only U.S. brand challenged by millennial values.
Iconic brands like Tide, Levi's, Coca-Cola, Ralph Lauren, Gap, and more "are going to suffer a precipitous decline in relevance, in sales, and share of market or drop dead, at the very least," retail expert Robin Lewis writes on his blog.
Fatigued by constant marketing and advertisements, young people are drawn to the simpler marketplace enjoyed by their grandparents, Lewis explains.
In order to succeed with the younger generation, McDonald's will have to convince millennials it has quality food.
McDonald's CEO Don Thompson acknowledged this problem in a call with investors and said the company was revamping marketing.
"We are strengthening our creative messages by placing greater emphasis on the quality of our food and again re-establishing the emotional connection that our customers associate with the McDonald’s experience," Thompson said.
The One Change You May Notice at McDonald's Drive-Thru
One of McDonald's greatest achievements last year in terms of customer satisfaction was trimming down the average service time at its drive-thrus. The experience now lasts about 5 minutes and 49 seconds from start to finish, compared to 6 minutes and 18 seconds in 2019, according to CNN Business.
The drive-thru currently accounts for 70% of all sales at McDonald's, so it may come as no surprise that the fast-food giant is actively testing more new ways to improve this service. The company is tapping into artificial intelligence to help increase speed and order accuracy, and the new technology is beginning to roll out at select locations, CNN reports. (Related: The Saddest Restaurant Closures In Your State.)
For example, customers in suburban Chicago may notice that a robot has replaced the human employees taking their drive-thru orders. The robotic female voice, which works similarly to Alexa or Siri, is designed to maintain certain customer service standards.
"Humans sometimes forget to greet people. They forget, they make mistakes, they don't hear as well," Lucy Brady, McDonald's chief digital customer engagement officer, told CNN Business. "A machine can actually have a consistent greeting and remain calm under pressure."
For now, this feature is still in the testing phase. It's unclear how long it will take McDonald's to expand it to all drive-thru locations, which comprise about 95% of their 14,000-restaurant footprint in the U.S.
Over the last few years, McDonald's has also rolled out digital menu boards, which can make customized order recommendations. It even tested a license-plate recognition software to further personalize the suggestions.
For more on recent fast-food trends, check out 6 Most Anticipated Fast-Food Menu Items Launching This Year. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get all of the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.
Food Leaders Take Notice: How Millennials Are Changing The Way We Eat
Millennials, by and large, are credited for being the ones who are out to “change the world.” They’re the most in tune with technology. They’re the most likely to go out to eat. And most importantly, they’re the ones who’ve changed the idea of value. However, what if all these things could be synthesized into one?
While it’s true that the world of food isn’t being disrupted overnight, millennials are certainly leading the change in the food revolution. From fast casual to farm-to-table, it seems as though every other month we hear about this generation finding something new to sink their teeth into. But there’s a bigger picture at play, and it’s one that’s not going away anytime soon. Here’s why:
1. The Shifting Environment
As many of us have heard before, millennials love going out to eat. In fact, according to an analysis of historical data on food-spending habits by the University of Arkansas, eating out has increased from 25.9% of consumers in 1970 to a current record of 43.5% . I’ll note that this pattern doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of millennials there are numerous factors at play.
For starters, going out to eat or ordering takeout saw an increase in popularity as more women entered the workforce. Second, many people see the price difference between going out and cooking at home as negligible (though many others would beg to differ). And finally, people are just busier, meaning they don’t always have the time to prepare a home-cooked meal.
These trends have caused a rise not just in going out, but in the explosion of the fast-casual chain, which observers note will soon overtake fast food. By offering healthier choices that someone can get on the go, fast casual’s quality and availability have allowed it to become one of the primary options for millennials. Plus, these restaurants generally offer much more variety than their fast food counterparts, which gives them a significant edge.
2. A Healthier Approach
Despite the criticisms that millennials are going out to eat too much, these folks are actually some of the healthiest eaters of any generation. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52% of organic consumers are millennials. Furthermore, these folks eat 52% more vegetables than their older counterparts. Yes, millennials are highly aware of their eating habits, which has entrepreneurs and marketers taking note.
While the health trends of the early 2000s have come and gone (e.g., McDonald’s offering salads), millennials haven’t stopped paying attention to healthy eating. After all, these folks have grown up in a time when obesity is at an all-time high, which they’ve been making concerted efforts to combat. Additionally, millennials place a lot more value in what they put into their body, educating themselves on the benefits of natural and organic foods. This is supported by shifts in diet as well: a staggering 40% of millennials are reportedly taking on a plant-based diet.
Frankly, these changes in mentality and behavior shouldn’t come as a surprise. This generation is better informed and better educated, and they’re willing to go the extra mile to get what they perceive as the best value for their dollar.
3. What’s Coming Next
Millennials aren’t just changing the food we’re buying they’re changing how we’re buying it. An excellent example of this is the rise in grocery- and meal-delivery services such as Door To Door Organics and Blue Apron , which offer high-quality natural or organic foods brought straight to your door. However, while this helps alleviate our on-demand desires, it only takes care of a fraction of our lifestyle requirements.
Let’s face it: people are busy. We don’t always have time to cook or even pick up something that satisfies our hunger, which can leave us making decisions that aren’t exactly the healthiest. And that’s what companies like Elements are trying to combat. Their ready-to-go packages have fresh ingredients, including some that never lose their nutrients (a rare, and possibly unprecedented, achievement). Expect companies like this to be a game-changer in a couple of years.
The future of food is going to be guided by millennials’ current concerns and desires, and it’s going to be interesting to see how these companies will continue to come up with new, creative solutions. Considering that the food industry has remained relatively stagnant in terms of delivery and options over the past few decades, we’re overdue for a facelift. Overall, the future of food is looking bright the only question is: how far do you think it can grow?