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Fast Food Ingredient Expectations

September 30, 2015

Man, it’s nasty outside today. Last night the Internet went out, and this morning Young Master Fussy’s bus was delayed. I saw a tree down completely blocking the road near my house. I also saw a nearby stream overflowing and washing out the road.

But now I’m back to the safety of my keyboard to draw some connections about the slowly improving state of food in America. All of this ties back to an article in Forbes earlier this month, and largely focusses around McDonald’s.

However, Chipotle also comes into the story, and that raises a more important point about expectations.

Forbes talks about how McDonald’s will buy all of its eggs from cage free chickens.

On one hand, it’s hard to call this news since it will take ten years to put into place. And that’s a long time. On the other hand, the process has already started, and one McDonald’s supplier who produces 4 million eggs a day from 5 million hens has already converted to a cage-free system.

Sure, cage-free eggs are not the gold standard for ethically and sustainably raised versions of this food. But it’s a good start. At least it allows birds to spread their wings and not spend their entire lives being pooped on from the birds in the cages above them.

While the U.S. Government may not find that be inhumane, some of us have our doubts.

And of course the upside is that with so much buying power, McDonald’s decision to move in this direction could have a ripple effect on the industry. Let’s hope so.

The good news for McDonald’s is that consumer expectations for the ethical and sustainable sourcing of their ingredients is relatively low. So even though cage-free eggs are pretty much just above the bottom of the barrel, the brand will get a significant lift from this move. And they may even be able to justify minor price hikes now that the eggs will be marketed as a premium product.

Speaking of expectations, the expectations for Chipotle’s ingredients is stupid high. How high, you might ask? Well, here’s a line from the Forbes article that really struck a nerve:

“In April, Chipotle announced it would stop serving any products with GMOs.”

Which, if you follow the blog, you will remember is not true. At all. To clarify, Chipotle has taken the GMOs out of the food they make. But right in the center of every restaurant is a giant GMO dispensing machine, filling Chipotle branded cups with sweet sweet GMO nectar, to wash down all that GMO free food.

The soda machine also probably pumps out some anti-foaming agent in your cup as well, but even ingredient label readers would be hard pressed to realize this since the ingredients for the fountain sodas are hard to find. So much for transparency at Chipotle.

But my point isn’t to pillory Chipotle once again for refusing to let go of their soda profits for the sake of maintaining the brand’s integrity.

I wanted to show that even a journalist for Forbes has been misled by Chipotle’s GMO efforts. Not just the journalist, but presumably her editor and any fact checkers who may have reviewed the story for this large media company.

Here’s the million dollar question. Is this Chipotle’s fault? It’s hard to say. The brand has been very precise with its language about what this GMO effort is, and that it relates only to the food. However, people have such high expectations for the brand, it’s possible they are just making a leap that the commitment to GMOs extends further than it really does.

Regardless, I didn’t hear anyone from Chipotle rushing out to correct this error on the part of Forbes which suggests the brand isn’t serving GMOs. One thing is for sure, there is confusion in the marketplace, and it has to be up to Chipotle to set the record straight.

I hope Chipotle continues to live up to those high expectations and that McDonald’s continues to exceed those lower ones.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 1, 2015 2:50 pm

    @FLB

    Beverages are THE profit generator for most fast food and fast food like eating establishments/chains. Based on how much ice they pack in and whether or not they charge for refills a restaurant counts on beverage sales to support it. While I am all for promoting the end of soft drink consumption, at least during a meal since carbonated beverages hinder the bodies ability to absorb what little nutrients are in the food, I doubt you’ll get any chain to completely give up their line of carbonated refreshments. Even though the mark up is (should be) higher on things like tea there are far too many customers who demand the soda with every meal, at least a meal at a restaurant.

    I am a former consumer of all things Cherry Coke/Vanilla Coke decided last month that is was time kick the habit. It was hard at first but once I got past week 2 it got a lot easier. Initially I told myself I was going to move to real sugar based drinks only so as to avoid that slow death known as high fructose corn syrup. The first few days I did not have the time to find any coke products with real sugar and once I did it had been over a week and so I opted to just stop drinking carbonated sodas. I was consuming 1- 2 can daily and since I quit almost a month ago I’ve lost 15 lbs and I’ve not made any other significant changes in my lifestyle.

    At this point I can’t imagine drinking something carbonated while eating.

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