Americans aren’t eating as much McDonald’s

McDonalds

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — What’s for breakfast? McDonald’s served up a quarterly report that was light on earnings Tuesday morning.

The fast-food giant missed analysts expectations as sales at U.S. stores fell for a third month in a row.

To put that another way, people just weren’t coming in for their egg McMuffin and afternoon Big Mac and fries as much as they used to.

McDonald’s said sales at stores open at least one year in the United States fell 1.7% in the first quarter, driving net income down 3% in its core market.

The weakness in sales was due to “negative comparable guest traffic amid challenging industry dynamics and severe winter weather,” the company said in its report.

McDonald’s shares were little changed ahead of the opening bell.

Earnings in the quarter fell 4% to $1.21 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted $1.24 per share. Revenue increased 1% to $6.7 billion, which was in line with expectations.

McDonald’s has been facing fierce competition at breakfast time, when it generates 25% of its sales. It offered free coffee in March as part of a plan to reconnect with its customers.

The offer came after Taco Bell made a move into the breakfast business with its Waffle Taco. Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell and KFC, will report quarterly results after the closing bell. Burger King and and coffee chain Starbucks also report results this week.

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3 comments

  • Vasu Murti

    McDonald’s (which test-marketed a veggie burger in California over a decade ago) is merely giving the public what it thinks it wants.

    Several years ago, a series of e-mail exchanges between animal activist Lauren Ornelas (Viva!) and John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, prompted Mackey to go vegan. He later commented in Veg-News (a slick, trendy, vegan periodical) that companies like Whole Foods can put vegan products on the market, but there needs to be an actual consumer demand for these products, if they are to succeed. That’s capitalism.

    (Mackey, a Libertarian-leaning entrepreneur, later incurred the wrath of the American Left by expressing opposition to health care reform in the Wall Street Journal.)

    To change things at the corporate level, we have to change things at the grassroots level: i.e., consumer demand. We have to educate the public.

    In an opinion piece in the now-defunct Animals’ Agenda from the late 1990s, Ingrid Newkirk, Executive Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), pointed out that the meat and dairy alternatives, veggie burgers, soy “ice creams,” etc. found nowadays in leading supermarket chains didn’t magically appear on the marketplace. They came about through consumer demand.

    Additional data from Please Don’t Eat the Animals (2007) by Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers:

    Meat production causes deforestation, which then contributes to global warming. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the destruction of forests around the globe to make room for grazing cattle furthers the greenhouse effect.

    The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports that the annual rate of tropical deforestation has increased from nine million hectares in 1980 to 16.8 million hectares in 1990, and unfortunately, this destruction has accelerated since then.

    By 1994, a staggering 200 million hectares of rainforest had been destroyed in South America just for cattle.

    Livestock production affects a startling 70 to 85 percent of the land area of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. That includes the public and private rangeland used for grazing, as well as the land used to produce the crops that feed the animals. By comparison, urbanization only affects 3 percent of the United States land area, slightly larger for the European Union and the United Kingdom. Meat production consumes the world’s land resources.

    Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.

    The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil.

    Thirty-three percent of our nation’s raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.

    “It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat.”

    —Jeremy Rifkin, pro-life AND pro-animal author, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, and president of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

    Les Brown of the Overseas Development Council calculates that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by only ten percent per year, it would free at least twelve million tons of grain for human consumption — or *enough* to feed sixty million people.

  • Vasu Murti

    In a vegetarian video from the 1980s, a psychologist says that small children play with stuffed animals, toy animals, watch animal cartoons on television, and can identify more closely with the animal world than with the adult world. She says many young children freak out when they learn where meat comes from, and if left to their own, most children would be vegetarian.

    Perhaps thinking along these lines, McDonald’s advertising tells children hamburgers grow in “hamburger patches.” The real truth (factory farming, slaughterhouses, bloodshed, etc.) is not as pleasant. Geoffrey Giuliano worked for an ad agency in Toronto, Canada portraying McDonald’s advertising figurehead Ronald McDonald for “basically a year and a half,” travelling to personal appearances for “The Ronald McDonald Safety Show.” A statement dated “Fall/Summer 1990″ in which Giuliano decried “concerns who make their millions off the murder of countless animals and the exploitation of children for their own ends” was submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs in the 1991 London McLibel case.

    In an interview he gave in London some years later, Geoffrey summed up his negative experience playing Ronald north of the border. “There’s no question that I was manipulating these children. I was a highly paid, highly trained, highly polished actor. Every show was a performance and I had a mandate to get that message out there, and yeah, it was not too hard – anybody can manipulate a child. I just went home one night, and I said, ‘I cannot do this, I can’t live with myself if I continue to do this.’”

    The author / actor has spoken widely regarding his turbulent term as the McDonald’s clown and the shadowy ethical implications of factory farming and animal rights for organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Giuliano has been an ardent vegetarian abstaining from meat, fish and eggs since 1970. In 2001 Giuliano published the book, Compassionate Cuisine, authored by then wife Vrinda Devi.

    Geoffrey Giuliano’s words about “the murder of countless animals” and his campaigning for organizations like PETA as well as his wife Vrinda Devi authoring a book entitled Compassionate Cuisine, all indicate that Krishna devotees are vegetarian first and foremost based on compassion for animals, rather than because certain foods cannot be offered to the Deities and that animal rights organizations like PETA are tolerant of and willing to cooperate with those who are not yet strictly vegan.

    “…the murder of countless animals and the exploitation of children…There’s no question that I was manipulating these children,” said Giuliano. “…anybody can manipulate a child.”

    Giuliano’s words bring to mind the words of musician Michael Cassidy (Mangalananda dasa), in the late ’70s, reflecting the words of his spiritual master, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896 – 1977), decrying the modern secular public educational system as “spiritual slaughterhouses”:

    “As a child I had no knowledge
    “No way to understand
    “My father kept me sheltered
    “He would hold me in his hand

    “You know I was protected
    “With no threat from anywhere
    “I drank my mother’s milk
    “And I didn’t have a care

    “But it didn’t last forever
    “I was soon sent off to school
    “Where the teachers gave me poison
    “And I drank it like a fool

    “They said that Mother Nature couldn’t give us what we need
    “That explained the factories, the smog and dirty streams

    “They pointed to the charts to show the population boom
    “To justify the murder of their children in the womb

    “They gave us all the facts explaining economic war
    “Like a fool I listened, I won’t listen anymore!”

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