Americans are demanding healthier food options. Some fast food places may finally be listening. Starbucks and Taco Bell separately announced their intentions to move towards more nutritional offerings earlier this summer. Neither eatery is known for being healthy, so the shift could be a huge undertaking.
For Starbucks, the change will start with posting calories for its drinks and pastry options. Starbucks representatives have said that the calorie counts for drinks will be based on the “standard” ingredients, so counts may vary depending on how people customize their drink. Another change coming to Starbucks is the introduction of a new menu item. “Evolution Fresh, inspired by Dannon,” is a designer yogurt that will be available in stores by spring 2014. The yogurt is being developed by Dannon in conjunction with Starbucks. Consumers can look forward to a ready-to-eat Greek yogurt parfait when “Evolution Fresh, inspired by Dannon” hits Starbucks shelves.
Taco Bell faces a bigger challenge than simply posting the calorie count for its products in its quest to be seen as healthier. Their first step towards more healthful fare is the “Power Protein Menu.” Options with less than 450 calories and more than 20 grams of protein will be featured on that menu. Taco Bell has also started testing two new zero-calorie beverages at their stores in Dayton, Ohio. The new drinks, SoBe Life Water Yumberry Pomegranate and Brisk No Calorie Peach Iced Green Tea will be available for consumers in Dayton before made widely available in all Taco Bell stores.
Though it’s great to see two fast food restaurants make the effort to be healthy, will the changes make much difference? Will people really choose a Greek yogurt parfait instead of a 420 calorie blueberry muffin? Will Taco Bell consumers purchase a chicken burrito instead of a Doritos Locos Taco? Maybe. Research shows that even when presented with healthier options, people still fall back on their old favorites. If that remains the case for Starbucks and Taco Bell, their new offerings may go the way of the McDonald’s Fruit ‘n Walnut salad.