Arcos Dorados Holdings, Inc., Latin America’s largest restaurant chain and the world’s largest independent McDonald’s franchisee, continues to use its Scale for Good to make a positive impact on the communities it serves. The Happy Meals served at the company’s restaurants will now include more fruits and vegetables and contain less fat, sodium and added sugars. Under new dietary guidelines endorsed by the Inter-America Society of Cardiologists, among other health organizations, Happy Meal options at all McDonald’s restaurants throughout Latin America and the Caribbean now contain less than 600 calories in total and comprise the four basic food groups, offering enhanced nutritional value for children.
Arcos Dorados has traditionally made a strong commitment to child nutrition. Since 2011, the Company has been modifying the Happy Meal to improve the nutritional balance of this iconic and popular menu item. Arcos Dorados was the first quick service restaurant chain to undertake this type of initiative in the Latin American region, by leveraging its large scale to offer meals that families like best for being delicious, balanced and always fun. In recent years, new flavors and ingredients have been added to Happy Meals, such as yogurts, apples and cherry tomatoes. In 2019, the Happy Meal menu is evolving further, offering combinations that include:
- 100 percent applesauce with no added sugars or additives
- Fruit juices, with no added sugars
- Burger with lettuce and tomato (or customized, lettuce only or tomato only)
“At Arcos Dorados, we have always been committed to society and to the many thousands of families that visit us daily throughout Latin America. We continually evolve our menus, paying careful attention to our customers’ changing lifestyles and consumption habits, in order to offer meals and experiences aligned with their expectations. Our new Happy Meal is popular with children for being delicious and fun, and with parents for being nutritious,” says Marcelo Rabach, Chief Executive Officer of Arcos Dorados.
Arcos Dorados’ nutrition modifications to the Happy Meal are aligned with the evolving eating habits of society. Families currently have more dietary information than in the past, which is why there is a greater awareness about providing children more balanced and nutritious food than in previous generations. This phenomenon was revealed by an opinion study conducted by the research consultancy Trendsity in partnership with Arcos Dorados. Although parents encountered challenges to provide a more nutritious diet, 60% of those surveyed believe their children eat healthier foods than they did at the same age. For example, 7 out of 10 parents have added to, or increased the consumption of natural juices in, their children’s diets. The study also revealed parents’ growing concern about the consumption of products that contain sugar, with 8 out of 10 parents indicating they have reduced their children’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages.
Arcos Dorados will continue to evolve its children’s menu by adding new offerings in the future, as part of the Company’s long-term business plan and ongoing commitment to child nutrition. Current efforts include exploring how best to work within the basic food group guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization to maintain a balanced diet comprised of whole grains, lean proteins, dairy and more fruits and vegetables. Arcos Dorados will also focus on offering more menu novelties through innovative packaging and more playful formats, making the Happy Meal more fun as well as more nutritious.
“We remain committed to the evolving needs of our customers and are already taking the next steps to further enhance the food and ingredient options of our children’s menu in the coming years. Our priority continues to be serving quality food that creates delightful moments for families,” adds Mr. Rabach.
Arcos Dorados’ new nutrition policy was developed with the highest standards of social responsibility. “We support Arcos Dorados’ initiatives to promote the health and well-being of families in the Americas. We believe it is extremely important to limit to 600 calories the caloric content of food offered in the Happy Meal, as well as offer menu combinations with options among the four basic food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy products,” said Dr. Fernando Wyss Quintana, President of the Inter-American Society of Cardiology.
In addition to this regional endorsement, the recent nutrition changes made to the Happy Meal are endorsed by major health and nutrition organizations of various countries, such as the Brazilian Association of Nutrition (ABRAN), the Argentine Cardiology Foundation, the Peruvian Nutrition Society (SOPENUT), and the Uruguayan Association of Dietitians and Nutritionists.
Arcos Dorados children’s menus are aligned with the global objectives established worldwide by the McDonald´s system and reinforce the Company’s commitment to generate a positive impact on the communities where its restaurants are located.