Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

Satisfries fail to fly

Satisfries product

Satisfries product copyIt will come as no surprise to a lot of people to learn that Burger King has withdrawn its “Satisfries” – fat and calorie-reduced French fries – from its 7,500 stores in America, just a year after they were launched.

At the time of launch, Burger King described Satisfries as “one of the biggest fast food launches”.

Satisfries were made with a batter that absorbed less oil during cooking. They were marketed as having 20% fewer calories and 25% less fat than Burger King’s regular fries and 30% fewer calories and 40% less fat than rival McDonald’s.

Burger King hoped that Satisfries would appeal to people who had cut back on eating French fries because of health concerns. But Burger King had completely failed to understand the nature of those health concerns.

The reason for falling sales of French fries is less because of concerns about fat and calories and more about the fact that Americans are eating fewer potatoes. It’s one result of the impact of the Paleo Diet and the growing popularity of everyday low-carb eating as a way of maintaining a healthy weight.

Will low-carb eating fade away and the potato bounce back? We don’t think so. The evidence for the health benefits of lower-carb, lower-glycemic diets is mounting. And so is positive media attention.

And eating fewer carbs is the reverse side of the same coin which sees more health-conscious people increase their protein intake.

Offering lower fat and calories is a doomed gesture to hold back this tide of change.

The fast food industry has a long history of trying to introduce “healthier” versions of fries and other foods. And this isn’t Burger King’s first failure. The company previously failed with healthier French fry launches in 1998, 2001 and 2011.

Although most people like guilt-free indulgence, many people also like “honestly indulgent indulgences” – such as French fries. So if your company plans to introduce lower fat/calorie/sodium versions of popular mass-market indulgent foods, expect to lose business.

Posted in Editorial, Mainsite

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