McDonald’s and national nonprofit, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation), announced Tuesday findings from a five-year progress report on McDonald’s progress toward its 2013 global commitments to promote fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and water. The report, released by Keybridge, a public policy economic consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., found that a majority of McDonald’s 20 major markets—including the U.S.—have met the 2013 commitments two years ahead of schedule, and the remaining markets are on track to meet them by the 2020 deadline. Those markets are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
In 2013, McDonald’s began working with Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive global plan for 20 major markets to increase customers’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water by 2020. These commitments apply to all markets globally, with measurement and reporting taking place in 20 major markets that represent nearly 85 percent of the McDonald’s global sales. The company retained Keybridge to independently verify progress on these commitments in a clear and transparent manner.
“We’re making real progress offering and promoting balanced choices in Happy Meals around the world,” says Julia Braun, head of global nutrition at McDonald’s Corporation. “This work measures and demonstrates the positive impact we’re having as we build a better McDonald’s and use our scale as a force for good.”
“We all have a role to play in changing the systems and environments that impact the health of children,” adds Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “These results show how combining the scale and influence of corporations with the expertise of national public health organizations can be a strategy for transformational change. “We appreciate McDonald’s for taking steps to create and promote fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy and water options for youth and their families.”
McDonald’s USA progress highlights:
- McDonald’s USA reports a 15 percentage point increase [from 37 percent to 52 percent] in Happy Meals served with milk, water or juice between September 2013 and September 2018. With this shift, more than half of Happy Meals in the U.S. now include milk, water or juice as the beverage choice.
- McDonald’s USA has served over 3.4 billion fruit, low-fat dairy and water items in Happy Meals since 2013. In 2018 alone, over 250 million sides of apple slices were served in the U.S.
Global progress highlights:
- Across the 20 major markets, the percentage of Happy Meal customers served milk, water or juice as their beverage choice increased 12 percentage points [from 36 percent to 48 percent] between September 2013 and September 2018.
- McDonald’s has served over 6.4 billion fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy and water items in Happy Meals since September 2013 across the 20 major markets.
- McDonald’s has also greatly increased the variety of balanced side options served in Happy Meals. In 2018, 161 fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy and water options were offered in Happy Meals across the 20 major markets, including options such as grape tomatoes in Australia, corn cups in Taiwan, and heart-shaped carrots in Austria.
- Over 200 million value meal customers chose a fruit, vegetable or side salad option as a substitute for French fries since September 2013.
McDonald’s 2013 commitments are not the end of the Happy Meal’s evolution. In 2018, the company furthered its efforts with Healthier Generation and unveiled an expanded Commitment to Families, including a set of five new Global Happy Meal goals to be achieved by the end of 2022. These goals include offering more balanced meals, simplifying ingredients, continuing to be transparent with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforcing responsible marketing to children and leveraging innovative marketing to help impact the purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals.