How Fast Food Restaurants are Reacting to the Shift to More Organic Foods:
To remain competitive, fast food restaurants have had to turn to
innovative products, often redeveloping their product lines, to meet the
changing demands of consumers for organic foods specifically, and healthier
foods in general. The demand for organic foods has been the mechanism for
industry evolution. As noted, McDonalds phased out their supersize menu
items, in response to society’s growing health concerns. In addition,
they’ve begun to offer more healthy menu choices, such as low-fat items and
fresh salads, to their customers, as well as promoting healthy lifestyles
in their marketing campaigns. In the New England area, McDonald’s even
replaced their coffee with Newman’s Own Organic blend, in an attempt to
take further advantage of more organically-discriminating tastes of
consumers. This move has been well-received in the region18. In
addition, new fast food restaurants are being introduced to the
marketplace, in response to these new consumer demands. Company’s like
Healthy Express are still relatively small players in the industry, but are
slowly garnering market share from their less healthy competitors19.
Another industry innovator is Organic to Go (O To Go). Based in
Seattle, Washington, the company “is the nation’s first certified organic
caf? and corporate meal delivery service”. The company’s mission is to
become a leading provider of certified organic and natural soups, salads,
sandwiches, entrees, and other foods. The target market is corporate,
university and other institutional customers, in select urban areas across
the nation. The company has differentiated itself with the use of organic
ingredients whenever possible, ingredients that are natural and free of
O To Go has successfully been able to morph the convenience of fast
food restaurants, while taking advantage of the increasing demand for
organic foods. This innovative concept capitalizes on consumers’ desire
for quick organic and healthy meals, in today’s fast-paced world. The
organization is the first fast-casual restaurant and retailer to be
certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI), which is the leading
third-party certification agency in the organic foods industry21.
V.G. Burgers is right on O To Go’s organic and pioneering heels. This
new organic, vegan quick-stop restaurant has just opened in Boulder,
Colorado. The company not only offers vegan organic offerings, but also
differentiates itself by offering menu choices for consumers with dairy,
soy or wheat allergies22. The concept clearly illustrates the
innovations being made to take advantage of the need for quick-service
restaurants, yet the demands for healthy food alternatives.
Tender Greens may not be as intensely organic as either V.G. Burgers
or O To Go, but they too have capitalized on the increased demand for
healthier food choices and desire for organic products. This fast-casual
salad restaurant in Culver City, California is another one of the
industry’s leading innovators, offering upscale food in a relaxed setting.
Their salad combinations are familiar, but the restaurant prides itself on
using the highest quality ingredients, including locally grown, organic
greens, obtained through a partnership with local growers that deliver
freshly picked greens daily23.
In the end, the increasing demand for organic foods is one of the
many causes of change in the food industry. Increasing amounts of produce
are being sold that are organically certified, as consumers look for
healthier, safer, higher quality alternatives to traditional food. Growing
concerns about the health issues associated with calorie-laden fast food
has been a double hit on the fast food industry. As a result, the desire
for organic foods has led to many industry innovations. Long-time industry
staples, like McDonalds, has altered their menu offerings to offer
healthier alternatives and even offer organic coffee in the New England
region. New organic fast-service restaurants are springing up across the
nation, as well. The one thing is certain, with the continuing demand for
organic food from society, the food industry will continue to see
innovations, as organizations strive to take advantage of these new
Abelson, J., “An Overarching Goal: Innovation,” Boston Globe (September 24,
2006): E2 (database online); available from ProQuest, ProQuest ID:
Brunning, R. “Organic Fast-Food Restaurant to Open in Boulder,” Knight
Ridder Tribune (October 12, 2006): 1 (database online); available from
ProQuest, ProQuest ID: 1157712541.
“Fast Food in the United States.” Market Line (August 2005) Database
online. Available from Datamonitor.
“Fruit & Vegetables in the United States.” Market Line (July 2006)
Database online. Available from Datamonitor.
“Global Organic Food.” Market Line (December 2005) Database online.
Available from Datamonitor.
Grange, H. “Organic Comes Home to Roost,” Business Day, (October 18, 2006):
1 (database online); available from ProQuest, ProQuest ID: 1148389781.
Jennings, L., “The Salad Days of Summer,” Nation’s Restaurant News 40, no.
34 (August 21, 2006): 29-30 (database online); available from
ProQuest, ProQuest ID: 1129315371.
“Organic to Go Expands in Los Angeles, Acquires Capital.” Business Wire
(November 16, 2006) Database online. Available from ProQuest, ProQuest
“U.S. Natural and Organic Food Market Predicted to Reach $31 Billion by
2007.” Healthy Living Monthly (May 1, 2004) Database online.
Available from InfoTrac.
Van Winkle, S. & Colbert, S. “Natural/Organic Strength Continues and
Presents Opportunities.” Healthy Living Monthly (August 15, 2006)
Database online. Available from InfoTrac.
Table 1 Global Organic Food Market Value: $ billion, 2001 – 2005
Table 2 Global Organic Food Market Segmentation: % Share by Value 2005
Table 3 Global Organic Food Market Value Forecast: $ billion, 2005 –
1 “Fruit & Vegetables in the United States,” Market Line (July 2006)
(database online); available from Datamonitor.
2 “Global Organic Food,” Market Line (December 2005) (database online);
available from Datamonitor.
4 Van Winkle, S. & Colbert, S., “Natural/Organic Strength Continues and
Presents Opportunities,” Healthy Living Monthly (August 15, 2006) (database
online); available from InfoTrac.
6 “Fruit & Vegetables in the United States”, 2006.
7 “Global Organic Food”, 2005.
8 “Fruit & Vegetables in the United States,” 2006.
9 “Fast Food in the United States,” Market Line (August 2005) (database
online); available from Datamonitor
10 Grange, H. “Organic Comes Home to Roost,” Business Day, (October 18,
2006): 1 (database online); available from ProQuest, ProQuest ID:
11 “Global Organic Food”, 2005.
12 “U.S. Natural and Organic Food Market Predicted to Reach…