With eyes around the globe turning to the upcoming presidential election, it’s an interesting time to think about symbols of American culture.

Any number of memories, images, events and, yes, foods can provoke feelings of patriotism and pride in Americans. 



With eyes around the globe turning to the upcoming presidential election, it’s an interesting time to think about symbols of American culture.

Any number of memories, images, events and, yes, foods can provoke feelings of patriotism and pride in Americans. The flag, apple pie, Mickey Mouse, fireworks, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps - but the list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most recognizable symbols of American-style eating - the golden arches of McDonald’s.

And yet, according to recent reports, this bastion of American capitalism actually is earning more overseas than here. The first half of the year, McDonald’s year-over-year European revenues rose 9 percent while European operating profits went up 21 percent. Meanwhile, U.S. sales revenue grew by 3 percent and operating profits rose 5 percent, according to a September 14 Chicago Tribunereport.

Further, theTribune report says, although the U.S. still accounts for McDonald’s largest market by revenue, the combined sales of Europe and Asia are poised to outgrow U.S. revenue this year.

So, what’s driving America’s favorite fast food giant’s overseas success? It seems to me that there is something to be learned here about foreign relations and adapting to the times. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based corporation not only has worked on creating a more comfortable atmosphere for its overseas patrons, but also tailored menu items to meet their unique taste preferences.

TheTribunereports that, for one, McDonald’s launched a worldwide “re-image” campaign, which has led to a more upscale atmosphere at thousands of locations. The modern décor, including leather seating and a more subdued palette, particularly were well-received in Europe. McDonald’s added menu items that are regionally specific to overseas restaurants (a chicken Maharaja Mac in India and an egg and beef Tamago Double Mac in Japan). The company hires locally-based management to add to store-level accountability and put the European business in the hands of London-based Dennis Hennequin.

Many overseas changes have been so successful that McDonalds is bringing them full-circle and back to the U.S.  - espresso drinks that sold well in Australia currently are rolling out in the U.S.

Despite the changes, McDonald’s has been careful to maintain basic tenets of its identity - the yellow arches remain its beacon and hamburgers and French fries still are the best selling menu items worldwide.

Adapting to change, but remembering your history and what brought you success in the first place - sounds like good old American principles to me.



Just the facts

Fifty-two percent of consumers said they look for fiber on nutrition labels - an increase from 42 percent in 2006, according to an International Food Information Council Foundation survey. Further, market research firm Frost & Sullivan predicts the fiber market will double in size to reach $470 million by 2011.

Source: Decision News Media SAS

Could rejection be a new marketing strategy for soup purveyors and coffee sellers? Scientists at the University of Toronto conducted an experiment in which some subjects were left out of a virtual game of catch while others were included. Each subject then was asked to rate his or her preference for certain foods including chicken soup, apples, crackers and coffee. Those who were subjected to social “iciness” - or left out of the game -showed a strong preferencefor the warmth of chicken soup and coffee, while those included did not.

Source: New York Times

A recent study by scientists at the University of Florence found that those who strictly stick to a Mediterranean diet had significant health improvements including a9 percent dropin overall mortality, a 9 percent drop in mortality from cardiovascular disease, a 13 percent reduction in the incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and a 6 percent reduction in cancer.

Source: Science Daily