McDonald’s Hops on Juicing Bandwagon with Berry-tastic Menu Items for Strawberry Month

In honor of national Strawberry month, McDonald’s is appealing to berry lovin’ consumers by releasing a new selection of smoothies, lemonades and yogurt parfaits.

New strawberry themed menu items at McDonald's |  McDonald's

New strawberry themed menu items at McDonald's | McDonald's

Strawberries have been a consumer favorite forever. The California Strawberry commission refers to the berry as “America’s favorite fruit.” With that in mind, along with it being the spring season with summer just around the corner, the quick-serve mogul is promoting new menu items featuring the beloved berry.

These berry-tastic items include- the McCafe’ Strawberry Lemonade, McCafe’ Strawberry Banana Smoothie, McCafe’ Strawberry Mango Smoothie, McCafe’ Frozen Strawberry Lemonade and Fruit’N Yogurt Parfaits.

However, the Strawberry Banana Smoothie and Fruit’N Yogurt Parfait will be the only items available nationwide. The rest will be available only at the brand’s California and/or Chicago stores. Most of the beverages will be available until August, except for the Strawberry Orange Mango Smoothie which will be in the northern California stores until October.

Fresh from the Farm?

Influenced by the farm-to-table movement, McDonald’s is emphasizing the freshness of the hand-picked strawberries from California. “Independent, third party companies inspect every load of strawberries for quality, color, firmness, and character to ensure a great experience when you visit McDonald's,” as stated in the recent press release announcing the brand’s new strawberry focused items.

The strawberries for the smoothies will not be shipped directly though, most of the berries will be made into a strawberry puree’ before being shipped to the stores.

"The beauty of freezing strawberries for McDonald's is that we are able to pick the berries at the absolute peak of ripeness -- locking in all the flavor, color and nutrition by washing, sorting, freezing and packing the berries within 12 hours of them being hand-picked from plants in our growers fields," said Ed Haft, CEO of Sunrise Growers, one of the strawberry suppliers for McDonald's in a recent press release.

Although these items are new, the brand is already one of the largest purchasers of strawberries in the Golden State. California produces over 88% of the nation’s strawberries.

The smoothies are a healthier, though certainly not a healthy option. The existing menu item, the Strawberry McCafe Shake has a whopping 550 calories in a small. While a small Strawberry Banana Smoothie has more than half that with 210 calories. But again, these smoothies are made with fruit juices with added sugars, so these are not the most nutritious of the beverages.

Can the Brand Compete in the Crowded Juice Segment?

Will these beverages be able to compete with the beloved summertime beverages like Starbucks’ Refreshers, which only have 90 calories?

Also are smoothies so 2015? Consumers have been recently gravitating more so to cold pressed juices. But, the smoothie trend is still going strong. It’s important to note, that consumers’ smoothie tastes have evolved. They are more interested in smoothies that are stocked full of superfood ingredients as meal replacements.

McDonalds’ may be incorporating a fan favorite fruit, but is it enough to entice consumers? Especially since more foodies are seeking out smoothies as the on-the-go meal alternative?