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McDonald’s home delivers Mac-attack as sales slump

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Fast food giant McDonald’s has instituted expanded a trial of its home delivery service in an attempt to shore up its bottom line amid slumping sales.

In an encouraging sign for public health advocates, McDonald’s reported that its Australian sales plunged 7.3 per cent in the June quarter following a similar decline in the first three months of the year, contributing to a 2.5 per cent fall in sales globally in June and July – the company’s worst performance more than 11 years.

The company’s Chief Executive Don Thompson identified Australia as a key market where it was trying to stabilise sales.

While food scares in China and fierce competition in the United States weighed heavily on the poor global result, observers think the fast food giant is also feeling pressure from a change in consumer habits toward healthier and fresher foods.

McDonald’s has long been associated with food laden with fat, sugar and salt, and in recent years has tried to change its image by offering salads and expanding the range of products on offer.

But many of its menu changes have elicited only a muted response from consumers, and it recently turned to home delivery as a way to boost sales.

In a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, McDonald’s said that “our customers have often said they like the idea of Macca’s delivery, so we’re currently trialling it in a number of our restaurants.”

But health advocates have raised concerns about the move.

AMA Queensland President Dr Shaun Rudd warned that the home delivery service was only likely to add to the nation’s obesity problem.

“I think, unfortunately, they’ll sell more food, and that means there’s going to be more burgers and more fires eaten by the population there, and they are already extremely overweight,” Dr Rudd told the Sydney Morning Herald.

McDonald’s began a trial of its home delivery service in the North Paramatta area – where the adult overweight and obesity rate is estimated to be around 60 per cent – last November and, following its success, has expanded the pilot to six other restaurants in Sydney. Trials in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia were due to begin last month.

Melbour4ne University Public Health Professor Rob Moodie told Business Insider McDonald’s was targeting poorer areas to kae the most sales.

“It’s their job to make money. They have no allegiance to the Australian population,” Professor Moodie said. “I don’t know if McDonald’s has any sense of responsibility full stop. They’ve never made any attempts to be involved in good health. [Home delivery] just makes it that much easier for people to eat nutrition-poor food.”

Adrian Rollins