Adapt or Die
The wind of change is blowing through the empire of fast food.
The vision of endless growth through new markets across the planet for fast food companies now looks unsustainable when it’s not what people want anymore.
When fashions, styles and tastes change, it’s time to adapt or die.
As the fast food companies have expanded around the world, they have had to adapt to local sensitivities.
In the old days, no franchise holder could deviate from the 700 page McDonald’s operations manual known as “the Bible”. But that policy may be changing.
In the 34 restaurants in India, the “Maharaja Mac” is made of mutton, and the vegetarian options contain no meat or eggs. There were disturbances in India when it was learned that McDonald’s french fries were precooked in beef fat in the USA, because Hindus revere cows and cannot eat beef.
Likewise, McDonald’s in Pakistan offers three spicy “McMaza meals”, Chatpata Chicken Roll, Chicken ' Chutni Burger and Spicy Chicken Burger. All three are served “with Aaloo fingers and a regular drink”.
In the USA itself, the taste for the food of the Eisenhower-era brightly coloured takeaway has changed over fifty years too.
What the market is meant to offer is more choice, not less. In the heart land of America, at Evansville, Indiana, there’s now a McDonald’s With the Diner Inside, where waitresses serve 100 combinations of food, on china.
This is not Ray Kroc’s vision of stripping out choice to save time and money.
At the end of 2002, McDonald’s began closing 175 outlets in 10 countries. Some were branches in cities like London, but the company pulled out altogether from some countries that were not giving appropriate financial returns.
The reasons for these corporate changes may not be just to do with fast food.
One of Ray Kroc’s partners once admitted that McDonald’s was not really in the food business at all, but in real estate.
McDonald’s actually makes most of its money from rent, because it owns more retail property than any other company on earth.
Land is more valuable than appetite, and the sites are more valuable an asset than what they sell.
Will McDonald’s mutate into another business entirely, in order to survive?
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