Thursday, December 18, 2014

Burger King pulls low-fat fries after tepid consumer response

Burger King is pulling its more-healthful crinkle-cut French fries, known as Satisfries, from most of its North American restaurants as customer interest in low-fat options went cold.

The Miami-based fast-food king said Wednesday that franchisees were given the option to keep them on the menu, but two-thirds of the chains decided to discontinue Satisfries. The low-fat, reduced-calorie fries debuted less than a year ago in an effort to attract more-healthful eaters.

Customers will be able to purchase the more-healthful fries at only 2,500 outlets across North America.

Burger King launched the fries last September to compete with increasingly popular quick service restaurants such as Chipotle, and expanded, healthier menus at Wendy's and McDonald's, which offer salads, fruit, wraps and other options. The fries were made with a different batter that enabled them to absorb less oil when frying.

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  • The fast-food chain said that customers "would ultimately determine how long Satisfries would remain on the menu." More than 100 million people ordered the Satisfries, according to the company, but the French-fry alternative was not very popular with consumers.

    Price could have been an issue. A small order of the lower-calorie fries typically costs about $1.89, whereas a regular bag of fries cost $1.59. Consumers have also faded away from low-fat, low-calorie options and instead are looking for fresher foods and products that tout low sugar and sodium, according to a June study by the Institute of Food Technologists.

    "Consumers want to lose weight, but they don't like the idea of dieting," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight for Mintel, a market research firm.

    Faced with disappointing sales, Burger King has been testing new, more creative menu items over the last few years, such as its French Fry Burger and Italian Basil Chicken Wrap.

    Earlier this week, the company announced that Chicken Fries were making a comeback as a result of an "overwhelming number of enthusiastic tweets, Change.org petitions, dedicated Tumblr and Facebook pages."

    Burger King reported that revenue fell 6.1 percent to $261.2 million in the second quarter. Sales at Burger King restaurants open at least a year in the U.S. and Canada rose 0.4 percent.

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    Brianna Sacks Los Angeles Times (MCT)
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