Why Some McDonald’s Products Take 4 Years to Launch

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McDonald's Products

Why do McDonald’s takes 4 years to launch a new product?

With 34,480 restaurants in 119 countries, including Cuba and France, McDonald’s has an incredibly large global presence, in which two-thirds of their total revenue is made outside of the U.S.

And according to the company, a McDonald’s is slated to open in Ho Chi Minh City sometime in the next year.

In order to grasp just how large of a world presence McDonald’s has, the company now buys more than 60 millions pounds of apples a year after they began including sliced apples in its Happy Meals, which is why it can take years to launch a product.

There are 40 members of what McDonald’s calls an innovation team. The team consists of chefs, dietitians, scientists, and marketing specialists.

According to McDonald’s food scientist Deb McDaniel, it takes from 9 months to 4 years for a food item creation to travel from idea to plate, because the McDonald’s innovation team learns every possible aspect about a food item before it’s introduced.

For instance, McDaniel claims if the temperature of their apple slices goes beyond 36 to 45 degrees, there is a lot of change in the quality and characteristics of that product.

When McDonald’s rolled out their McCafé Wild Berry Smoothie, McDaniel said it took an extra year because they would have had to purchase 30 percent of the entire supply of blackberries in the U.S.

But there are still 105 countries McDonald’s hasn’t penetrated, from Ghana and Jamaica, to Yemen and Tajikistan. And in six countries where McDonald’s once had a presence, NPR’s Jessica Naudziunas points out the McDonald’s franchises have closed due to economics and politics.

One of the most recent closures was in Macedonia and Bolivia.

In Bolivia, all McDonald’s franchises were closed, and the Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced McDonald’s and other Western fast food chains during a speech in February:

“The major multinational food companies seek to control the production of food and to dominate global markets by imposing their customs and foods. The only goal of such producers is to generate profits,” said President Morales.

“So they standardize food and drinks, turning them into global foods produced on a massive scale with the same formula. They are not interested in the health of human beings, only in their earnings and corporate profits.”

Naudziunas claims the McDonald’s departure from Iceland had more to do with economics, and adds that Jon Gardar Ogmundsson owned what was one of only three McDonald’s restaurants in the country for about six years before he had to shut his doors after 18 months of financial struggle in 2009.

“When we were importing goods, it was doubling and tripling in price,” he says. “We always thought in Iceland our currency would recover, but it hasn’t, even until today.”

People stopped buying burgers at his McDonald’s franchise. But Ogmundsson went on to purchase a locally sourced “green line” fast food restaurant called Metro.

Ogmundsson says with his ability to now price his products as he chooses, and offer more health-conscious meals, Metro “is actually doing quite well.”

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper

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