The fast-food industry is one of the most successful as many people eat these types of foods especially given the way it is marketed. Fundamentally, fast foods are convenient since they are cheap, quick, and have good tastes. By all means, eating proves as one of the core life pleasures which has led to the steady growth of this industry. Initially, fast foods were offered from burger shops but the current market is dominated by multi-billion firms offering these products. Because of the rapid growth, a majority of these companies compromise the quality standards and health conditions involved in preparing fast foods. Additionally, studies have proven that fast foods negatively influence the health of persons primarily since they have high-refined sugars and saturated fats which often lead to obesity, diabetes, and similar health conditions (Rosenheck 535).
McDonald’s is a fast food company based in America. By 2016, the company topped as the most prominent restaurant chains considering the revenue. At this time, the company was serving more than 69 million customers across 100 countries with approximately 37,000 outlets (Kasi, 2017). Despite the dominance in the market, people have, in the past, raised their concerns over the healthiness of food offered by McDonald’s which negatively influenced the customer perceptions. Since then, the company has considered adding healthy foods to its menus such as fish, salads, and fruit. In this paper, focus will be on the aspects in the fast food industry and corporate structure which have impacts the sustainability of the company and changed customer perceptions. Given the recent plans to enhance its sustainability, this paper seeks to understand whether these goals and plans can potentially change the attitude of consumers towards McDonald’s. Significant also, there is a question of whether these sustainability goals have the potential to influence McDonald’s to produce healthy foods overcoming the constraints of the fast food industry.
Sustainability and Product/Service design
With 3 goals outlined in the proposition of value of “Quality, Service and Friendliness Cleanliness” (QSC), McDonald’s is visualized as a take away. The service proposition promise of Fast, Accurate, and Friendly that the company still measures and focuses on today, is and been traditionally, the major guiding standards which drive the service system. As noted, the restaurant has been focused on the service delivery instead of how the delivery is viewed by the clients. McDonald’s is a production centric restaurant, in which consistent hospitality procedures, speed, and accuracy are the major focus. The performance of services is evaluated by accuracy and speed of delivery. The company reviews and updates its service systems as the business and menus evolve, and expand and become more varied.
Life Cycle Analysis of McDonald’s
As the McDonald’s seeks to enhance its environmental performances, it needs new tools and methods. Life Cycle Analysis is one of the tools which can help McDonald’s to comprehend the environmental impacts related to their activities, products, and processes. Life Cycle Analysis is still evolving and controversial as a methodology. Nevertheless, the principles behind Life Cycle Analysis thinking are being embraced increasingly by service companies such as McDonalds as a technique of expanding the discussions over environmentally sound processes and products and opening new perspectives. The Life Cycle Analysis goal is not reach at the answers but, instead, to offer vital inputs to a wider strategic planning process.
The Challenge of McDonald’s
Today, franchising continues to permeate in many countries and business sectors. Arguably, the fast food sector is accountable for today’s proliferation of franchising. In the case that McDonald’s would not have experienced explosive growth, franchising may not have gained the command it has today. However, competition and defending the market share in this market proves as a difficult task.
In a recent report, the observations were that obesity has reached epidemic levels in the world. Ideally, an average of two-thirds Americans are overweight or obese (Chapman, 2004). There have been two high profile lawsuits targeting the McDonald’s. According to the law experts, the company failed to warn its consumers that fast food may be fattening. In consequence, the company was responsible for the increased cases of health-related issues. However, this lawsuit was overthrown by United States’ GOP controlled house ban. Certainly, if the fast food industry was banned, it would have a great impact on its economy fundamentally since the industry employs more than 12 million people. Since then, the company’s menus have changed significantly and disclosures of the nutritional value have improved.
Besides the legal attention to healthy foods, McDonald’s has individually shown concern for the changing customer tastes. Compared to other competitors, this firm has undeniably employed the greatest operational changes to promote healthy lifestyles. Over the past years, the company introduced fruit, salads, and other low-fat options in the menus. Consequently, this trend leads to an increased customer base in Australia where it had experienced massive loss after claims of disregarding the need for promoting healthy lifestyles.
McDonald’s has another challenge of rivalry in the industry as more companies join the fast food sector. Currently, there are numerous chains expanding with brands such as Subway, Krispy Kreme, and Whataburger are employing effective strategies to expand. At the same time, existing companies and franchisees are facing a great challenge trying to return positive results on the existing operations such as McDonald’s. As a sign to prove the drastic change in the industry, McDonald’s has plans to compete by expanding a customizable burger pilot programme to around 2,000 outlets which will give the customers an opportunity to add bacon to the Quarter Pounder (Schlosser, 2012).
McDonald’s 2020 Sustainability Goals
Given the standards of the fast food industry and the challenges that McDonald’s has, it introduced 2020 sustainability goals which include beef production. However, one environmental group has found the goals unachievable and lacking in transparency. Ideally, the entire business model of McDonald’s entails disposable matter and inexpensive food that is cheaply produced. As such, this system is completely unsustainable which demands milestone changes.
On the other hand, the leadership of McDonald’s believe that the move is positive and focuses on areas that are critical to the business and those that have the capacity to improve the company. Some of the goals are as follows:
1. Promote sustainable beef production and start purchasing beef from sources that prove as being sustainable
2. Sourcing 100% verified coffee and fish from sustainable sources
3. Promote in-restaurant recycling and maintain 50% increase
4. Acquire 100% of fiber packaging from verified sources
5. Increase efficiency in the energy of restaurants by 20%
6. Serve fruit, vegetable, low-fat, and low-calorie foods by 100%
In the case that the company fails to implement these changes, it will end up losing its customers which makes it essential to address the goals of corporate responsibility. McDonald’s claims that it is in the process of mainstreaming sustainability.
Essentially, the restaurant is the points of contact with the customers. Therefore, McDonald’s prioritizes preparing raw materials as they are availed by the suppliers from the centers of production and make them available to the consumers as finished products. McDonald’s has hygiene control systems which manage sanitation of the restaurants. Primarily, they include health checks such as washing of the hands, sterilization of equipment, and checking the expiration dates of the products. All in all, the main issue is the maintenance of sanitary control. Each restaurant has a food safety checklist which sequentially assesses the status of the equipment and facilities.
One of McDonald’s long-term goals is to source all its food and package it sustainably. In this regard, sustainability is fundamental in sourcing of raw materials among the processors and retailers. According to many customers, ecology and equal trade are key aspects which determine the general quality of products.
As much as McDonald’s is responsible for sustainability at the corporate level, the suppliers comparatively need to ensure they anchor the same in their corporate strategies. For instance, Agra Frost’s supplier of French Fries in Germany has one of the most effective sustainable corporate structures (McDonald’s Corporation, 2014).
b) Origin of Raw Materials
The purchase decisions of McDonald’s are influenced by quality, the safety of food, its availability, and the cost. The management of the company expects the quality of products regardless of where they come from. Particularly, most of the raw foodstuffs of the company are potatoes. McDonald’s Germany had 135,000 tons produced primarily from Germany in 2013 (McDonald’s Corporation, 2014). The production is strictly under contracts especially since the company only makes a special type of burger fries.
McDonald’s heavily relies on beef but it does not have farms or rear animals. Most of its iconic items in the menu are 100% beef which makes the company aggressive towards sustainable production practices (Crawford & Humphries, 2015). However, the company only supports beef production that is environmentally sound. It has plans to collaborate with the industry to establish solutions that will result in sustainable beef production.
Despite the fact that McDonald’s is famous for beef burgers, it similarly cares about the chicken it serves. The health and welfare of chickens found within its supply chain are essential to the company in that it ensures antibiotics are used responsibly in this chain.
In 2016, McDonald’s rolled out new carry-out bags, fountain beverage cups, and sandwich boxes. The management believes that the new look of the packaging system is simple, creative, and coincides with the vision of the company to be a modern company.
There are key demographic and lifestyle changes which are fueling the growth of the fast food industry. Among these changes, the primary aim is to provide balanced options for consumers.
a) Balanced Diet
McDonald’s and its stakeholders have concern for the availability of balanced product combinations and vegetarian choices. In 2013, McDonald’s defined a new vegetarian category, the falafel patty McBorgerding, after reviewing several (McDonald’s Corporation, 2014).
b) Quality Control
The quality and safety of food is a top priority for the company as customers only expect the safest and most quality products. McDonald’s has a Quality Assurance Requirements and the suppliers need to comply with these standards.
c) Ingredients and Nutritional Value
McDonald’s has a list of 14 main allergens which encompassed in its products. On the company website, one can easily identify specific allergens in various products.
d) Advertising to Children
One of the issues that arose in the fast food industry was advertising to children. McDonald’s, however, is a member of the EU pledge whose initiative is self-regulation of advertising to children.
The future of this company depends on its ability to come up with innovative ways of limiting its natural resources.
a) Cut greenhouse gases
One of the vital issues to consider is that specific elements such as agriculture are accountable for the consumption of resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, establishing effective changes in the upstream processes is paramount.
b) Green energy for restaurants
Several restaurants make use of natural gas which is fundamentally used to heat them although in particular cases, it is utilized for equipment that uses a gas such as grills.
c) Car pool
As of 2013, there were around 467 vehicles available for employees who take business trips in McDonald’s Germany (McDonald’s Corporation, 2014). As there is an increase in fieldwork, the company intends to add the number of vehicles to avoid traffic.
d) Waste Recycling
McDonald is responsible for the collection and disposal of all packaging in circulation. It includes, paper, lightweight, organic waste, and used cooking oil.
McDonald has a well-focused and effective human resources strategy which takes note of critical changes in demographics. As one of the largest employers, after Walmart, McDonald’s ought to practice effective strategies to maintain the comfortability of all employees. As such, the company gives equal opportunities to both male and female employees. The income of both genders is equal and the organization currently emphasizes the need for vocational training to enhance the productivity.
Beyond the corporate responsibility lies an even bigger issue of promoting the local communities. Among other challenges is litter which has remained profound although McDonald’s has taken new steps to combat littering by employing campaigns to overcome this issue. All complaints about the firm’s littering are handled and addressed promptly. Additionally, the company supports the community through programs like the Ronald McDonald House Charities whose purpose is to support programs that improve the well-being of children.
Ecosystems and Ecosystem services
Ecosystem services are the varied and many gains which people freely benefit from suitably-operating ecosystems and natural environments. For instance, such ecosystems include aquatic ecosystems, grassland ecosystems, forest ecosystems, and agro-ecosystems. Ecosystem services which are the natural processes which human beings rely on for their well-being and survival have lately become conservation discussion and research focus for McDonald. The company ensures supporting functions such as formation of soil; cultural functions such as aesthetic and recreational values; regulating functions such as aesthetic values and climate regulation; as well as the provisioning functions such as fresh water and food.
McDonald’s Sustainability against Burger King
The consumers of fast foods believe in the concept of extreme creativity. As such, Burger King announced that it would transition all its chicken and eggs to sources that are antibiotic-free. This came with a boost in the sales growth by 8 percent (Courtinard, Byker, & Serrano, 2014). Also, this company launched a Better Beef campaign that focused on the fact that its beef was completely free of hormones. Burger King has been attributed in the past to the massive deforestation in parts of Brazil and other nations in South America which amounts to 271 million acres. In response, its sustainability report held that it would reduce deforestation practices by 2010 and would maintain the land rights of farmers in countries in South America. According to researchers, however, it is impossible to reverse these effects within such short time.
Burger King faces problems similar to McDonald’s. Notably, each company has been associated with unhealthy foods. However, compared with Burger King, McDonald’s sustainability report is more realistic and considers the key values that are key to this organization. While Burger King boasts of beef that is free of hormones, the same product is linked to mass deforestation. Certainly, it fails to note the sustainability of the beef sources unlike McDonald’s which has a strict set of standards which ensure that its suppliers are verified sustainable sources.
There are improvements that need to be done for McDonald’s sustainability. It needs to engage a strict approach towards sustainable sourcing considering both its suppliers and the raw materials, giving customers healthy options, valuing its employees, avoiding litter and supporting community practices, and conservation of the natural resources. With the fast food industry having huge potential, McDonald’s may feel tempted to compromise quality and health standards. McDonald’s is no different and had a bad experience trying after it was taken to court for failing to reveal to its customers about the risk of making people fat. However, the case got dismissed since McDonald’s and its competitors are integral to the US economy.