McDonald's Freshens Up Its Happy Meals

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McDonald's CEO Donald Thompson even admitted in the latest earnings conference call that there's "no one silver bullet or single solution for driving sustained growth." But he also went on to say, "The key to our success over time has been that we've executed multiple initiatives simultaneously ... as we focus on those areas within our control to enhance our relevance and appeal to consumers."

So how, exactly, is McDonald's helping shareholders by making Happy Meals healthier?

First, adding fresh whole fruit to the menu requires less packaging and labor than the current apple slices, which means reduced operational expenses and a juicier bottom line.

But perhaps most notably, this also helps appease health experts and parents alike, who have increasingly put pressure on the global fast food behemoth in recent years to offer more health-conscious options amid a clear paradigm shift toward healthier food. This, in turn, will undoubtedly boost consumers' perception of the McDonald's name, and is a clear step in the right direction given Thompson's insistence that "We are taking meaningful action to become even a more respected brand."

That's also not to say that McDonald's work is done. It has had trouble, for example, getting kids excited about vegetables: A trial of baby carrots in Happy Meals failed badly several years ago, despite shaping the carrots like characters, according to USA Today .Then again, that's also a battle with which many parents can already identify, which means they would also be more likely to forgive a lack of options at McDonald's for the little ones.

In any case, it seems evident McDonald's is intent on pushing forward with healthier food. If McDonald's can do it right over the long-term, it's a push that could benefit everyone involved.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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