Sep 29, 2011
McDonald’s adding apples to every Happy Meal

In July, McDonald’s announced that it would include apple slices in every Happy Meal by next year. Packages of apple slices were being phased in starting in September, according to the New York Apple Association (NYAA).

“We’re very excited about this,” said Peter Gregg, NYAA’s communications director. “This is very big news for apple growers in the U.S.”

McDonald’s doesn’t track sales of the popular kids’ meal, said Ashlee Yingling, media relations representative for McDonald’s U.S. According to NYAA, however, the restaurant chain sold 220 million Happy Meals in the United States last year.

It’s too soon to speculate on just where all those apples will come from, Yingling said, but the U.S. industry is hopeful.

“With the current sliced apple products sold at McDonald’s, they use a lot of Gala and Empire apples, which we grow a lot of here in New York,” Gregg said.

Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission (WAC), said the apples would have to come from U.S. growers.

“The shelf life of a processed, sliced apple is such that it can’t be imported,” he said. “They’ll be getting these apples regionally.”

Another benefit, Fryhover said, is that appearance doesn’t have much to do with sliced, processed apples.

“It’s going to let the growers and packers have a choice with what they want to do with their apples,” he said. “I see nothing but positive things from this announcement. It’s going to benefit the entire industry.”

Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, sees the McDonald’s announcement as a win for growers and a win for processors, too, since it will dramatically increase the need for sliced apples. It’s also a win for kids.

“Kids just love apples,” she said. “Sliced apples are especially appealing to kids.”

Gregg said that Happy Meals reach parts of the country, and kids, that don’t have much access to fresh apples.

“Once these children have these apples in their meals, it could change the dietary uptake of an entire generation,” Fryhover said.

By Derrek Sigler, associate editor

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