Two of the countryâs prominent quick-service restaurants are mixing things up for their produce suppliers.
Wendyâs is introducing a line of salads this month, and McDonaldâs is planning its launch of fruit-topped oatmeal, but is reportedly nixing its 6-year-old Fruit and Walnut Salad.
McDonald's is reportedly taking its Snack Size Fruit and Walnut Salad off the menu early 2011. The menu item started as a full-size salad in 2004, and later was taken down to a pre-packaged snack version.
McDonaldâs has been testing its oatmeal â which comes topped with fresh apple slices, cranberries and two types of raisins â in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and has seen positive results, said Ashlee Yingling, U.S. media relations for McDonaldâs.
Oatmeal should be rolled out nationally early in 2011, Yingling said.
Crainâs Chicago Business reported in July that McDonaldâs is retooling its menu and dropping the Fruit and Walnut Salad, which for the past several years has only been available in a snack size. It was launched in 2004 as a much larger salad, with separate suppliers for apples, grapes, walnuts and yogurt.
âThe latest information I have is that McDonaldâs is targeting discontinuing the Fruit and Walnut Snack toward the end of this year with a date to be confirmed,â said Ali Leon, senior director of strategic business development for Ready Pac, an Irwindale, Calif.-based supplier of apples for both the Fruit and Walnut Snack and McDonaldâs Apple Dippers.
Leon said the loss of the salad will have an effect on the marketplace, McDonaldâs is focused on healthy items and it might come out with another item to replace it.
Yingling refused top comment on the future of the salad.
âWe were involved originally with red and green apples and red grapes, but when they changed the look (to the snack size), they wanted us to bring in nuts and yogurts, and because of the allergen piece, we decided not go that route,â said Lisa Baldoz, foodservice marketing manager for Tree Top Inc., Selah, Wash.
Tree Top supplies green and red diced apples for the oatmeal. The green apples are granny smiths, and the red apples range from Pink Ladies, jonagolds, galas and empires.
âMichigan might have a couple varieties we just donât grow in Washington theyâll use for the red-skinned,â said Ned Rawn, national accounts manager of foodservice at Tree Top.
Peterson Farms, Shelby, Mich.; Fresh Express, Salinas, Calif., and Taylor Farm Fresh Foods, Salinas, also supply fresh-cut apples to McDonaldâs.
Laura Pruda, vice president of business development for Taylor Farms, said the company has been a supplier for McDonaldâs for 15 years, supplying shredded lettuce, green leaf lettuce, specialty salad, slivered onions, fresh-cut red onions, sliced tomatoes, grape tomatoes, lemons, limes and the Fruit and Walnut Snack.
âAs far as the future of Fruit and Walnut, it is business as usual,â Pruda said.
Andrew Ciafardini, assistant spokesman for Chiquita and Fresh Express, said the company supplies apples for McDonaldâs, but he could not confirm whether the company supplies product for Apple Dippers, the Fruit and Walnut Snack or both.
Wendy's is touting its new line of salads as, "totally reinvented." The salads roll-out in July.
Wendyâs Garden Sensations
Wendyâs menu is also getting a little sprucing up, with a new line of premium salads hitting menus early July. The chain is set to roll the salads out nationally with an ad campaign that kicks off July 19.
The company is focused on balancing value with promotions, said Roland Smith, president and chief executive officer of Wendyâs Arbyâs Group, in its latest earnings report.
âIn the third quarter, we are very excited about launching a new salad line that produced strong results in our test markets,â Smith said during the conference call May 13.
The new Garden Sensations salads include Apple Pecan Chicken, BLT Cobb, Spicy Chicken Caesar and Baja with dressing choices of pomegranate vinaigrette, lemon garlic Caesar, creamy red jalapeno and avocado ranch.
The salads also include chopped romaine, red and green apples, grape tomatoes, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and roasted pecans.
Smith said he believes the new salads will drive positive transactions and sales.
The company is also working on a new breakfast menu which it plans to expand in stages, rolling out nationally by late 2011. Photos that accompanied the breakfast announcement included a cup of cut apples, strawberries and grapes, although the company did not announce its potential breakfast items.
Tree Top is also a fresh apple supplier for Wendyâs, and has been talking to the chain since 2003 about launching a product that includes its sliced apples. Wendyâs picked up the mixed apple chunks for its Apple Pecan Chicken salad.
âWe finally got a project we were able to work with them on,â Baldoz said.
Peterson Farms is also an apple supplier for Wendyâs, Rawn said. Peterson Farms did not return calls by press time.
âWendyâs, years ago, came out with a line of salads and baked potatoes and really created the category,â Rawn said. âThen others caught up â¦ now, theyâre coming back to that segment they owned for years.â
McDonaldâs also has new menu items in the works, but Yingling could not comment on any at this time.
âWeâre involved in some products but merely in ideation,â Rawn said. âBut at this point, it would be premature for us to mention anything.â