(Aug. 29) A year after McDonald’s Corp. rolled out its Fruit & Walnut Salad, the fast food giant is scaling back on the entree-sized entry.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s said in mid-August that it was phasing out the meal-sized salad in place of a more portable side salad that contains the same mixture of red seedless grapes and sliced apples, along with a low-fat yogurt side and optional sweetened walnut topping.

The other three components in McDonald’s Premium Salad lineup remain unchanged.

The Fruit & Walnut Salad was well-received, if somewhat ill-conceived in size, said Danya Proud, McDonald’s spokeswoman.

“As with anything we do, it’s driven by customer demand and preference, and what we’ve learned, as we continue to dialogue with them, they were saying they weren’t using it as a meal, which was what it was designed for,” she said.

“Our customers said it was a way to complement their meal, and the ($2.99 suggested) price point was not where they wanted it to be.”

The $1.79 snack packs, available in smaller bowls with peel-away lids, were scheduled to be available in all McDonald’s units in September, although they were already in more than 2,000 locations by Aug. 22, Proud said.

Proud said she did not know whether the change would affect the volume of fruit McDonald’s would purchase in the future.

Among McDonald’s largest produce suppliers are Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms and Fresh Express Inc., and Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Produce Inc.

Proud declined to disclose sales volume of the Fruit & Walnut Salad as an entrée, which the company had tested in more than 1,000 locations before its national rollout May 4, 2005.

“I can say since we’ve introduced our overall premium salad line, we’ve sold more than 500 million salads,” she said.