The figures coming from the United States are revealing. McDonald’s is giving signs of weakness. The company that once guaranteed growth and success had reported constantly growing figures for years, and for the past five years, its stock price has increased nearly 50 percent. But the wind is changing. Its CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors, Don Thompson, has resigned, and the fast-food chain announced the implementation of cost-saving measures for 2015. However, McDonald’s isn’t the only company that saw its revenue fall, and Coca-Cola has likewise made it known that it would implement a cost reduction program.
It is possible that the losses endured by the industry are due to the changing behavior of its consumers, who now eat more healthily and opt for alternatives that are good for their health. The Swiss seem to be following this encouraging trend as well. In fact, the results of a collection of representative data from the Federal Office of Public Health show that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is increasing, as is the amount of physical activity.
Moreover, the number of people playing sports is increasing, with nearly three-fourths of the adult population in Switzerland engaging in sufficient levels of physical activity. These figures prove that the prevention efforts for a healthy body weight for the Swiss population are beginning to bear fruit.
Even in the homeland of fast-food giants, prevention is now the subject of important investments. In particular, Michelle Obama’s commitment is impressive. With the help of a team from the White House, the first lady launched a national campaign against childhood obesity in 2010. Additionally, new regulations adopted in the United States do not cease to surprise us. New York, for example, introduced a maximum cup size for sodas, declaring war against obesity.
In San Francisco, the city enacted a law against advertisements marketed toward children, under which manufacturers no longer have a right to try to entice children with free toys, like those that are found in McDonald’s Happy Meals, among other examples.
Numerous representatives from the business community have tended to reject these prevention efforts and, even in Switzerland, state prevention programs are the subject of political confrontations. It is understandable that the business community would be opposed to what may be damaging to revenues. Incidentally, those who oppose prevention find a certain amount of success with the argument that these programs threaten jobs. Some years ago, a law on prevention was rejected because of pressure exerted by an alliance led by the Swiss Industry Union.
It must always be stressed that if consumers’ changing behavior can make jobs disappear, it can also create them. Restaurants offering healthy food have been sprouting up for several years. They come from companies that may not challenge the status quo, but which understand that the existing prevention programs are recommendations, but also the first warning signs, and that the market is, in any case, going in this direction. That is why, rather than fight against this trend of favoring healthy products, these companies find creative approaches to contribute to the evolution in a positive way.
It is there that multinational companies like soda manufacturer Coca-Cola or McDonald’s find difficulty in adapting. It is said that their structures are complicated, their reactivity is weak, and their bureaucracy ineffective. It seems that certain large companies have become passive and have thus missed the boat on the healthy eating trend.
Nothing is left but for us to wait and see if and how these companies will progress, but there is no doubt that their years of glory are finished once and for all.
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