2000, they introduced salads, low-fat desserts and a wider choice of chicken and fish burgers; and they also included more regional menu variation and began experimenting with new formats, such as cafes and kiosks. In 2004, after much publicized consumer and government concerns regarding the obesity crisis, McDonald’s discontinued its super size option and began a new range of salads. They are addressing the claim that they are contributing to the obesity crisis directly through their corporate social responsibility strategies highlighted in their Worldwide Corporate Responsibility Report (McDonald’s 2006).
McDonald’s launched a number of programs in keeping with their new “balanced lifestyles” platform that focuses on three areas: food choice, education and physical activity. One of the key components is “Go Active!” which was tied-in with sponsorship of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. In 2006, they began a large-scale roll-out of printing nutritional information directly on their packaging, the first major restaurant company to do so. The format is icon-based and can be understood independent of language; the icons represent calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium. Lastly, in 2006 McDonald’s announced a collaboration with Scripps Research Institute (QSR 2007). McDonald’s will financially support research that focuses on understanding solutions to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, with an initial contribution of $2 million. This amount, however, is very small in comparison to McDonald’s total profits or the magnitude of the health problem being addressed.
These initiatives are promising starts toward addressing the healthy diets and childhood obesity challenges. However, more analysis is needed to understand how effective these initiatives are and the degree to which consumers are buying these healthier products in comparison to the traditional menu items.
PepsiCo merged with Frito-Lay in 1965 to create PepsiCo Inc. It is now the second largest soft drink company in the world behind Coca-Cola. PepsiCo’s main brands are Pepsi Cola, Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker. Its two core brands are Pepsi Cola in the soft drink market and Frito Lay in the packaged-food industry. The United States and Mexico remain two of the top markets for PepsiCo soft drinks and snack food products. However, PepsiCo has more than doubled its net sales in non-North American countries from 2000 to 2007. Figure 4, is a breakdown of PepsiCo’s global net sales since 2000 for the United States, Mexico, the United