With consumers becoming more health and weight conscious, many high-profile quick-service chains are jumping into fruit cart mode to live up to these demands and expectations. As noted in a recent QSR Magazine article, Americans are now eating more fresh fruit than ever. From 1980 to 2009, the average consumer went from eating 106.2 pounds of fruit annually to 127.5 pounds annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Panera Bread, Arby’s, and Corner Bakery are a few of the many quick serve restaurants that have already jumped on the fresh fruit bandwagon. From side items to salads to smoothies, these chains are finding new ways to incorporate fresh fruit into their menu offerings.
One of the most recognizable chains—that’s better known for burgers and fries than fresh produce—decided to incorporate a side of fruit into all kids’ meals as a standard element. Although McDonald’s has offered apples as an add-on since 2004, the chain’s decision to make a bag of apple slices a consistent component of the Happy Meal further underlines the company’s broader health initiatives targeted at younger consumers.
“McDonald’s wants to help support parents in encouraging their children’s habit of eating produce at meals,” says McDonald’s USA’s family category marketing director, Molly Starmann. “By automatically including them, McDonald’s is offering parents and kids a balance of the foods that are good for them along with the foods they love.”
So if you aren’t as far ahead as McDonald’s, here are a few things to consider:
- Many restaurants provide a limited-time option, which allows for testing the appeal of the produce offered.
- Both the suppliers and the operators can experience great success when a restaurant finds a fruit that fits with its brand.
- To ensure the freshness of the fruits, there are a variety of tactics operators are using. Some choose fruits that are picked prematurely so that they ripen in transit. Others employ the flash-freeze method to lock in the flavor and freshness. Some are still using a variety of chemicals to keep the fruits fresh.
The fruit offering option is opening a whole new window for quick-service restaurants. As with any other menu offering, the fruit option has to fit with the brand for the results to be successful.
The occasion is ripe to add some fruit options to your menu. Better start picking.
Photo credit: Derek Thomas