Taco Bell announced they will no longer be offering kid’s meals or the toy’s that come with them. The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company announced, and should be completely gone by January 2014.
“As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kids’ meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind,” Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Taco Bell, said in a statement announcing the move. “What does make sense is concentrating on expanding choices that meet and exceed the diverse needs of consumers of all ages, without losing focus on what makes us great today.”
Taco Bell will be the first national fast food chain to remove kid’s meals. Although not the first to remove the toys. The regional chain Jack-in-the-Box eliminated toys from kids’ meals in 2011.
Fast-food chains spend an estimated $580 million every year on marketing to children younger than 12. Of that, about $340 million is spent on licensing and production of toys, USA Today said, citing the Federal Trade Commission.
This move by Taco Bell is coming at a time when fast food chains are being pressured by parents, health advocates and lawmakers to improve the nutrition of meals they serve to children.
Creed says many parents will like that they no longer will be nagged by their kids to eat at Taco Bell just because of a toy. “It’s not that we don’t like kids,” he says. “We’re empowering parents.”
Consumer-advocacy groups will be applauding Taco Bell for eliminating kids’ menus, but kids’ meals accounted for only a small sliver of overall sales, reports AdAge. Kids’ meals represent 0.5% of its sales, according to the company. Taco Bell posted an estimated $7.5 billion in U.S. system-wide sales in 2012, according to Technomic.
Compare that to McDonald’s, where Happy Meals account for about 10% of U.S. sales. Considering McDonald’s had $35.6 billion in U.S. system-wide sales in 2012, according to Ad Age’s DataCenter, that’s more than $3.5 billion in Happy Meal sales last year alone.
“It’s a constructive step forward that Taco Bell will no longer use toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to their restaurants,” says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the CSPI. “By constantly churning out new toys, fast-food chains have a new angle every six to eight weeks for marketing to kids.”
“Pioneering this change on our menu is a bold move for our industry, and it makes sense for Taco Bell,” said Creed. “We’ll be able to better focus on creating new and inventive items that our customers love.”
Menu items on the current Kid’s Meals Menu will remain available individually on the regular menu, including the Crunchy Taco, Soft Taco, Bean Burrito and Cheese Roll-up.
Have no worries about Taco Bell’s regular menu either. Taco Bell will continue to focus on new menu options that provide a broad range of choices and define the brand, such as the Doritos Locos Tacos®, the Cantina Bell® Menu as well as offering more balanced menu items.
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