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Will McDonald’s ditch the salad?

A McDonald's restaurant sign is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in Del Mar, California April 16, 2013.

MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

You can't win friends with salad – and apparently, McDonald's is okay with this.

The CEO of the big arches announced at a conference this week that the company's salads are a failing venture, announcing that they make up for a narrow 2 to 3 per cent of total sales. The dollar menu – cheap burgers and fries – generates about 13 to 14 per cent, Don Thompson said.

Despite the company's vigorous push to market itself as health-conscious, the company may go back to pushing burgers. "I don't see salads as being a major growth driver in the near future," Thompson said at the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Strategic Decisions Conference in New York.

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This comes the week after the company got schooled by a nine-year-old girl, who grilled the company on nutritious meals.

The failed strategy could be as simple as mixed messages gone awry: As a vegetarian and infrequent McDonald's customer, I find the salad items offensive – they're still covered in bacon or ranch chicken, and if I'm going to splurge on McD's, I'm going big – or at least for me, on the grilled cheese happy meal. (Don't knock it til you try it: the bun that regains its shape no matter how many times its poked should be reason enough.)

Or maybe the failure is trying to appeal to everyone, while appealing to no one: the U.S. menu has grown by 70 per cent – to a whopping 145 choices. What salad item could possibly thrive beside something called a McSkillet?

And in America, where apparently no one knows how many calories are in their Big Macs, is it any wonder people keep opting for the greasy, quick and delicious?

The healthy(ish) McWrap too, might face the same fate – as apparently a piece of chicken in a tortilla with some lettuce is too complicated and slows down service for the fast food giant.

Whether appealing to the calorie-counting health-conscious crowd, or the burger-craving grease folk, it seems like McD's can't win, either way: The forecast sent shares of the world's biggest fast-food chain down nearly 2 per cent to $99.92 (U.S.).

What do you think: Is McDonald's the last to know salads aren't cool? If you were running the show at McD's, what would you do – appeal to the healthy trends or stick to the tested and true greasy and quick?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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