In the food industry’s endless pursuit of selling food, chasing price and, more recently, providing healthier options for health-conscious customers, Burger King in the US has announced that it is introducing a lower fat French fry.
Aptly named ‘Satisfries’, Burger King claims the new fry contains 40 per cent less fat and 30 per cent fewer calories than its sparring partner, McDonald’s. According to the burger giant, a 70 gram serving of Satisfries has only 150 calories, compared to the same serving of McDonald’s fries, which contains 226.
While this may sound encouraging to those seeking healthier alternatives, the reasoning behind the switch wasn’t exactly pure. As Burger King’s Chief Marketing Officer, Eric Hirschhorn advised, “You live in Manhattan and might be having a kale smoothie on your way to work this morning. But a lot of people don’t even know what kale is, and if they do, they don’t want to eat it. You have to give people what they want.”
That last line underpins all that is wrong with the food industry. When companies are chasing dollars, as that’s what they are born to do, consumers will luck out time and time again. Instead of educating people about the benefits of eating kale (or anything else remotely healthy), Burger King has taken the approach that making a “healthier” alternative of a junk food is the way to satisfy the American palate. Oh – and did I mention they also cost more than the traditional, fatty fries?
Perhaps they are right – at least for now. What is disappointing however is how these super companies, many contributing to the obesity epidemic in the United States and beyond, are shirking their responsibilities to their consumers, and instead are continuing to fuel the Western world with highly processed, high fat, high salt junk foods. “Giving people what they want”, as suggested, does nothing to change the underlying ethos and understanding people have about food. In fact, it only serves to confuse people more in a world where making healthy choices is already a high complicated process.
Shame on Burger King for taking this step. What consumers really need is better education, better options and less refined foods. Let’s hope people vote with their dollars and shift their eating habits elsewhere. You can read the full story from the New York Times here.