McDonald's may be developing a taste for a new ingredient as it fights to reinvent itself: Kale.
The world's biggest burger chain says it's testing two breakfast bowls in Southern California, one of which includes the leafy green as an ingredient.
The test comes as McDonald's Corp. works to shake its junk food image, with sales at established U.S. locations declining for six straight quarters. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the top spot March 1, has said he want to turn the chain into a "modern, progressive burger company."
Lisa McComb, a McDonald's representative, said in an email the kale is included in a Turkey Sausage & Egg White bowl, which also has spinach and bruschetta. The other option is a Chorizo & Egg bowl, which includes a hash brown, cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo.
On Wednesday, Janney analyst Mark Kalinowski had also noted on that McDonald's was introducing three salads in Canada that have kale as an ingredient.
The embrace of kale may seem odd to some, considering McDonald's recently ran an ad that celebrated the Big Mac and mocked trendy ingredients like soy, quinoa, Greek yogurt — and kale.
But as The Christian Science Monitor has reported, the fast food company is working to revamp it's image.
“More generally, McDonald’s clearly aims to raise consumers’ perception of the quality of its food. Adding kale to the menu in some way could help be a step in this direction.” according to analysts at Janney Capital Markets.
McDonald’s also announced in March that it will phase out chickens raised with antibiotics from its US restaurants over the next two years. It will also begin to offer low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk that come from cows not treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST.
(And, on a related note, Burger King recently announced it will drop soft drinks from kids' meals.)
Millennials may be a target audience for such menu chages, as The Monitor notes:
Millennials across the country are more aware of their food than ever before, from seeking out farmers markets to fill Mason jars with locally grown produce to lovingly (critics might say, obsessively) photographing meals and uploading them to Instagram. In general, Millennials say they care deeply about where their food comes from and how it is produced. They are more likely to seek out locally grown produce, environmentally sustainable meat, and nutritionally dense superfoods. And given their numbers, corporations are starting to pay attention.
“There are roughly 80 million of them. This makes Millennials the biggest generation thus far. And one thing is for certain, based on research, they are definitely changing the landscape of the food industry,” Chelsea Davis wrote in a blog for TraceGains, a company that provides food manufacturers with the technology to promote quality and safety in the food supply chain.