In the vein of better late than never, McDonald’s has announced it will join the ranks of KFC, Pizza Hut, Boston Market, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Subway and Panera in moving toward only using antibiotic-free meat at its restaurants. McDonald’s has already made this move with chicken and is targeting the same for 85% of its beef supply chain in the next few years. This doubling down is clearly part of McDonald’s move to appeal to consumers that are embracing aspects of our Clean Living investing theme, which will have reverberations across the supply chain that feed its 37,000 global locations.
McDonald’s said Tuesday that it planned to reduce the usage of antibiotics across 85 percent of its beef supply chain in the coming years, in a move designed to help curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
The burger chain said it will begin working with its top beef sources to analyze and measure the current state of antibiotics usage and by 2020 would set antibiotics-usage reduction targets. Starting in 2022, McDonald’s will begin reporting its progress on the systematic reduction of antibiotics in the food it serves.
The chain has previously addressed antibiotic usage in its menu items. In 2016 in announced that it had removed antibiotics important for human medicine in chicken products in the U.S. and later expanded its efforts with stricter guidelines for its global suppliers.
McDonald’s is not the only company to introduce antibiotics usage policies in recent years. Other quick-service chains working to address this public health issue include KFC, Pizza Hut, Boston Market, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, which all have made moves toward only using antibiotic-free chicken in recent years. Subway has also joined such “clean” food-focused restaurant chains as Panera and Chipotle in working to eliminate antibiotics from its supply chain entirely by 2025. In 2016, In-N-Out Burger announced a phase-out of beef raised with antibiotics.
According to data published by the NPD Group:
- Three out of five Americans say they want more protein in their diets;
- Fourteen percent of U.S. consumers, or more than 43 million people, regularly use plant-based products and
- 86 percent of them aren’t vegans or vegetarian.
These figures are in sync with the growing influence of our Clean Living investing theme and we are seeing companies respond. One of the latest is Starbucks, which has introduced its first plant-based protein offering that is part of its efforts to craft a healthier image as it attempts to move past its sugar and calorie ridden Frappuccinos. Starbucks isn’t the first company to introduce such products, and it probably won’t be the last, but given its reach, it likely means we are approaching a tipping point. All that remains is to see if consumers opt for it.
Starbucks is getting into the plant-based protein game for the first time.
The chain is introducing Protein Blended Cold Brew in almond and cacao flavors, available now through fall, while supplies last. The nondairy 16-ounce drinks are made from pea and brown-rice protein.
“Plant-based beverages, plant-based proteins are a choice that many consumers are gravitating toward,” CEO Kevin Johnson told an annual institutional-investor gathering in June, highlighting health and wellness as a strategic priority for Starbucks.
The new almond drink is made with almond milk, almond butter and 12 grams of plant-based protein and contains 270 calories, 12 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar, according to Starbucks. The sweetness comes from what the Seattle-based chain calls the Banana Date Fruit Blend as well as coconut sugar; there’s no refined sugar.
Starbucks customers can also request a shot of plant-based protein be added to a different drink, the company said.
From faux-beef burgers to infused energy bars, plant-based proteins are a growing trend in the U.S. – and not just among people who eschew eating animal proteins, such as beef, poultry and pork.
KFC started testing plant-based chicken in the United Kingdom and Ireland in June, while two months earlier, White Castle introduced its Impossible Slider, a version of its iconic slider made with a plant-based meat equivalent. And Dunkin’ Donuts began serving almond milk in September 2014.
As the incomes have risen in emerging economies, quick service restaurants ranging from KFC and Pizza Hut at Yum Brands to McDonald’s, and Burger King among others have looked to capitalize on this. What this means is our Fattening of the Population theme is global in nature and is expanding past China into India and taking root in the Africa, which is now home to the fastest growing middle-class.
Rapid urbanization, population growth and expanding economies which swell the ranks of middle-income families, are leading to more Africans indulging in fast foods.
And like seen in more advanced economies, this has led to an increasing overweight and obesity levels across Africa.
A new report from the Malabo Montpellier Panel, a group of international agriculture experts, says African children are increasingly exposed to high-sugar, energy-dense, processed foods that are cheap in cost but lower in nutrients. Obesity among 7- to 11-year-olds increased from 4% in 1990 to 7% in 2011 and is expected to reach 11% in 2025.The change in eating habits is also seen among older middle-class Africans, who are increasingly desk-bound and are not engage in much physical activity such as sports.
Africa now has the fastest growing middle class in the world with current trajectories showing they will grow to 1.1 billion by 2060. Over the last few years, big fast food brands like Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway all set shop in the continent in the hope of taking advantage from the expanding middle class who have disposable income and a palate for processed food. Given that, an obesity epidemicis now unraveling in countries like Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria.
A step in the right direction for Cashless Consumption, and we have to wonder if KFC is a test bed for other Yum Brands (YUM) chains such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. One more step toward the Cashless Consumption tipping point that is being spurred on by our Fattening of the Population investing theme.
The option is now available at “some” U.S. locations, and should eventually reach all of them by the end of the summer, KFC said. Like some other restaurants, people will be able to use Apple Pay both at the counter and in drivethroughs. The rollout is part of a broader adoption of mobile payments at KFC, as the restaurant is now also accepting Android Pay and Samsung Pay.