McDonald’s leaders speaking at the U.S. Apple Association’s 2004 Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference today in Chicago, Illinois, extended their commitment as the world’s leading food service retailer to drive economic expansion for apple growers by adding apple-based products to its national menu.

“McDonald’s has given the apple industry a significant boost with their exciting innovation around apples and apple slices,” says Jim Cranney, Vice President, U.S. Apple Association. “McDonald’s is the leading purchaser of apples in the restaurant industry.”

“The growing presence of apples on our national menu is part of our ongoing commitment to offering customers high quality, great-tasting food choices that meet their changing lifestyles,” said Ralph Alvarez, President, McDonald’s USA. “We will continue to explore new choices based on the feedback we receive from our customers.”

In June, McDonald’s launched Happy Meal Choices, which offers children new choices like Apple Dippers and Minute Maid Apple Juice in place of or to accompany traditional Happy Meal favorites.

Based on current sales data, McDonald’s estimates that it will sell over 35 million pounds of apples annually just through Apple Dippers. With the combination of Apple Dippers, Minute Maid Apple Juice and baked Apple Pies, McDonald’s has sold nearly 118 million apple products in the first half of 2004.

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