McDonald's Food Has A Healthy Glow, At Least In China

Here in the U.S., McDonald's food is not usually considered all that healthy. But in China, it is.

That's because Chinese consumers trust American brands more than their own, says Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research, who studies Chinese consumer behavior. Rein says that in China, McDonald's is seen as providing safe and wholesome food.

Rein talked with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about a new Chinese McDonald's ad campaign. The ad (see screen grab above) uses brightly colored vegetables and rain falling on tomatoes to reinforce McDonald's healthful image in China.

"They wanted to use nice, healthy, looking food for the Chinese consumer because the Chinese are petrified of the food supply chain," Rein says. Rein reassures us that Chinese consumers know that much of the McDonald's menu is high in fat. And there's no denying that obesity is a growing problem in the China, as it is worldwide.

But, "in a country that deals with food scandals seemingly on a daily basis, like melamine in milk, people are gravitating towards McDonald's and other Western fast food brands because they trust them as being healthy," said Rein.

So McDonald's in China is bolstering the image of its food as "wholesome, clean, hygenic food," Rein says. That's probably a pretty easy sell because of its factory-like production systems, compared to Chinese street vendors, who sometimes rely on used cooking oil from the sewers, he says.

The big burger chain is still competing to reach the prowess of Pizza Hut in China, where the atmosphere is considered nice enough to host a business meeting or go out on date night. But, Rein says, thanks to renovations in the past two years, McDonald's is on its way.

When asked how McDonald's will fare in China's slowing economy, Rein says McDonald's sales are up, but it should be worried about the encroachment of other Western brands like Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, and Krispy Kreme who have all announced major investments in the China market.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Not My Job: Sharon Jones Gets Quizzed On Handshakes

We've invited the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings to play a game called "Let's shake on it."
NPR

Salvage Supperclub: A High-End Dinner In A Dumpster To Fight Food Waste

The ingredients — think wilted basil, bruised plums, garbanzo bean water — sound less than appetizing. Whipped together, they're a tasty meal that show how home cooks can use often-tossed foods.
NPR

Barbershop: Speechwriters Speak On The RNC And DNC

Republican speechwriter Mary Kate Cary, Democratic speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum and historian from the University of Virginia Barbara Perry dissect the last two weeks of speeches at the RNC and DNC.
NPR

From 'The Water's Edge To The Cutting Edge': Fish Skeletons, CT Scans And Engineering

Professor Adam Summers is a "fish guy." He uses fish to get engineering ideas. His latest project is to CT scan every type of fish — all 33,000 of them.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.