Nutrition & Marketing Practices
For 8 of our 20 major markets,1 at least 50% of their Happy Meal Bundle Offerings meet McDonald’s Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria as of 2019
12 out of 20 of our major markets have removed artificial flavors and added colors from artificial sources in Happy Meals as of early 2020
12 of our 20 major markets have made nutrition information for Happy Meals available and accessible through all owned websites and mobile apps used for ordering where they exist, as of Q2 2020
To learn more about our progress, download the Global Happy Meal Goals 2020 Interim Progress Report (PDF – 28.2 MB), or see the Our Performance section below.
As one of the most frequented restaurants in the world, we help feed millions of people every day. We provide families with a variety of choices to meet their needs, bringing families together to share moments and create lasting memories.
Parents are looking for menu choices that they can feel good about feeding their kids, and that’s why we’re focused on evolving the Happy Meal and making balanced meals more accessible to families across the world. McDonald’s will continue to take a responsible approach to our Happy Meals by offering balanced options and promoting menu items that contribute to recommended food groups, such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
We are always listening to our customers and evaluating our menu to identify ways to evolve our offerings while maintaining the great taste our customers know and love. For example, we’re working with and learning from families to find areas where our system has the best opportunity to create positive and meaningful change. We also have a team of food experts who are passionate about food and are always looking for the latest flavor and ingredient innovations.
Since 2013, we have been working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation), a third-party nonprofit organization, to evolve our Happy Meal menu and use our size and scale to promote more balanced choices for kids. We also work with Keybridge, an independent third party, to measure and publicly report our progress in the 20 major markets toward our commitments. These organizations help us define our targets and measure progress, and we continue to prioritize future action and continuous improvement.
McDonald’s commitment to working with Healthier Generation to help increase access to fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water options demonstrates a willingness to collaborate and leverage their global size and influence for public good.
Kathy Higgins, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
In 2018, we announced five new, ambitious Global Happy Meal Goals to be achieved by the end of 2022.
We developed these new goals in collaboration with Healthier Generation, focusing on kids and families, as that’s where we believe we can have the biggest impact.
When developing these goals, we sought input from third-party nutrition experts and used rigorous criteria grounded in science and nutrition policy to ensure the goals were relevant and reflect the evolving needs of our customers.
The Global Happy Meal Goals continue our focus on Happy Meals, offering more wholesome choices that kids and parents love. We aim to deliver balanced meals that provide a variety of options from recommended food groups, using simpler, quality ingredients so parents can feel good about our Happy Meal menu.
We aim to achieve these goals in all markets globally2 by the end of 2022, with measurement and progress reporting among 20 major markets representing nearly 85% of McDonald’s System’s global Happy Meal sales.
We’re proud of our long history as an industry leader in responsible marketing to children. We recognize the role we play as a global food company and are actively involved in self-regulation focused on this important issue.
As a global brand reaching millions of children and families every day, we understand the importance of responsibly communicating with children. This is an area that must be addressed at both a company and an industry level.
That’s why we participate in a number of local and regional pledges, such as the EU Pledge and the U.S. Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative. Our global policies are guided by these pledges as well as our own Global Marketing to Children Guidelines, which apply to all of our markets around the world.
Helping Support the Sustainable Development Goals
Our nutrition and marketing practices help support the UN Sustainable Development Goals a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, in particular:
We established goals around nutrition to ensure we are offering increased access to options that support balanced diets. At the same time, our marketing goals help us drive progress in supporting customers to make informed choices.
The Global Happy Meal Goals apply to all markets globally with measurement and reporting of progress among our 20 major markets: U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Taiwan and Australia.
For more detail on our progress, including scope, exclusions and methodology, please view our Global Happy Meal Goals 2020 Interim Progress Report (PDF – 28.2 MB). We used the latest data available for each goal in this progress report, while maintaining the rigor of verification from Keybridge, our third-party validator that monitors and evaluates our commitments.
Goal 1: Offer Balanced Meals
By the end of 2022, ensure 50% or more of the Happy Meal Bundle Offerings listed on menus in each market meet McDonald’s Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria of less than or equal to: 600 calories, 10% of calories from saturated fat, 650 mg of sodium and 10% of calories from added sugar.
8 of the 20 major markets met the 2022 goal in 2019, up from 3 markets in 2018.
An average of 43% of Happy Meal Bundles met the Nutrition Criteria across the 20 major markets in 2019.
Goal 2: Simplify Ingredients
By the end of 2022, remove artificial flavors and added colors from artificial sources in Happy Meals and reduce artificial preservatives where feasible in Happy Meals without sacrificing the safety, taste, quality or value of our food.
12 of the 20 major markets met the 2022 goal in early 2020.
Goal 3: Be Transparent With Happy Meal Nutrition Information
By the end of 2022, ensure that nutrition information for Happy Meals is available and accessible through all owned websites and mobile apps used for ordering where they exist.
12 of the 20 major markets met the 2022 goal in Q2 2020, up from 6 markets in Q1 2019.
Goal 4: Market Responsibly
By the end of 2022, all Happy Meal bundles advertised to children will meet McDonald’s Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria and continue to meet any existing applicable local/regional advertising pledges.
16 of the 20 major markets met the 2022 goal in 2019.
Additionally, 100% of ads shown to children in 2019 featured water, milk or juice as the Happy Meal beverage and fruits, vegetables or dairy as a Happy Meal side.
Goal 5: Leverage Innovative Marketing
By the end of 2022, leverage innovative marketing to help increase purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals.
16 of the 20 major markets sold an increased share of Happy Meal items containing recommended food groups in 2019 versus 2018.
Making Progress Toward Our Global Happy Meal Goals
These latest goals build on work we launched in 2013, in partnership with Healthier Generation, to develop a comprehensive plan to help increase customers’ access to fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water by 2020 across 20 major markets. The commitments, which a majority of markets achieved in 2019, encompassed five that relate to improvements in menu offerings, menu boards, packaging and advertising directed at children.
In October 2020, we released a global progress report, demonstrating the meaningful progress we’ve made towards the five Global Happy Meal Goals. Across our 20 major markets, half of all beverages sold in Happy Meals were water, milk or juice in 2019, and over 2.5 billion Happy Meal items sold since 2018 contained fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, water, lean protein or whole grains. Additionally, as of early 2020, 93% of Happy Meal menu items have no artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, or artificial preservatives that could be feasibly reduced. To learn more about our progress, download the Global Happy Meal Goals 2020 Interim Progress Report (PDF – 28.2 MB).
We have served over 8 billion fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy and water items in our Happy Meals since September 2013 across our 20 major markets.
We know there’s more work to be done as we continue toward 2022. This progress marks an important step in providing access to more wholesome, balanced options made with high-quality ingredients.
Achieving the Commitments We Made in 2013
In 2019, we announced that the majority of McDonald’s 20 major markets met the commitments we set in 2013 two years ahead of schedule. Across these markets, the percentage of Happy Meal customers choosing milk, water or juice as their beverage increased by 12 percentage points between 2013 and 2018.
Evolving the Menu in the U.S.
We are always looking for ways to innovate and evolve our menu options. Staring in May 2018, the beef served in Quarter Pounder® burgers in the U.S. is sourced only from North America,3|4 and cooked fresh in restaurants across the country. On September 26, 2018, we announced that all of our classic burgers have no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors from artificial sources. Our pickle contains an artificial preservative, so skip it if you like.5
In early 2020, we introduced a new reduced sugar, low-fat chocolate milk that contains 25% less sugar than leading quick service restaurants’ low-fat chocolate milk6. It’s a great example of how we partner with the dairy industry and our supply chain to create a menu innovation and offer more balanced options for our younger guests.
Nutrition Improvements in the U.K.
We want to make it easier for our customers to make healthier choices. Our nutrition strategy in the U.K. has been in place for over 15 years. During this time, we have reformulated over 200 of our ingredients and invested heavily in broadening our menu of balanced healthy options. We have introduced more salad options, as well as fruit and vegetable bags, orange juice, mineral water and organic semi-skimmed milk. To date, 90% of our core food and drink menu is under 500 calories.
We review and update our Happy Meal menu regularly. In 2020, we launched our Veggie Dippers, approved by the Vegetarian Society. Around 70% of items in our Happy Meal menu are non-high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) according to the UK Nutrient Profile Model.
As part of our broader efforts, we are leveraging technology to encourage customers to choose balanced options. Showing the lower calorie soft drinks first on our menu ordering screens has encouraged more customers to buy them – with over 1.9 million purchases switched from higher sugar variants to the no added sugar options7 when this was first introduced in 2017.
2 It is important to note that our global System consists of both Company-owned and franchised restaurants. The franchised restaurants are operated by conventional Franchisees, developmental licensees (i.e., a Franchisee that operates most or all of the McDonald’s-branded restaurants in a specific market) or pursuant to other licensing arrangements, and make up the majority of McDonald’s-branded restaurants around the world. Our Franchisees make independent decisions for their own business organizations, subject to their obligations under the operative franchise or other license agreements and core standards required for the McDonald’s brand. McDonald’s does not prescribe all business requirements for our Franchisees, but rather we work in collaboration with them to raise awareness and provide tools and opportunities to assist them as part of the brand’s food journey. We also work with Franchisees to mutually set objectives and targets and to help monitor their related progress. As a result, while we will encourage Franchisees to participate in the important goals outlined in this document, we cannot guarantee their compliance. However, we can drive change in our Company-owned restaurants, so much of this work will start with Company-owned restaurants, with a plan to demonstrate success and expand measurement, and that will ultimately help to support independent Franchisees that choose to join us on this journey.