McDonald's fruit

Free Fruit Fridays is fronted by Tamzin Outhwaite

McDonald’s UK has doubled the number of fruit suppliers to four - adding Simplyfruit and Hessing - to help cope with increased demand for its kids fruit bags following the launch of its Free Fruit Fridays campaign.

The two companies will join McDonald’s existing fruit suppliers, Natures Way Foods and Del Monte, in supplying the chain’s UK restaurants with fresh apples and grapes, packed in 80g fruit bags as part of McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Free Fruit Fridays kicked off on 7 March and will see McDonald’s give away a free fruit bag with every Happy Meal on the first Friday of every month. The company said it hoped the push would help redress declining fruit consumption among UK children. It expected to sell an additional 3.5 million apples and 23 million grapes a year as a result.

It declined to say how many apples and grapes it currently sells.

Patrick McCann, CEO of Simplyfruit, said childhood nutrition was an important issue, and his company was “delighted, proud and privileged” to be working on the campaign.

McDonald’s UK has committed to using only British and Irish beef for its burger patties, but has not made similar commitments for fruit. However, marketing director Nathalie Pomroy said many of its apples were from UK orchards “when in season,” though supply from France and New Zealand was also used.

McDonald’s uses Royal Gala, Braeburn and Cripps Pink apples in its fruit bags. Its grapes come from Spain, Italy, and South Africa.

Free Fruit Fridays will initially feature apples and grapes, but Pomroy said McDonald’s would explore other fruit in future. Options could include pineapple sticks, which McDonald’s already offered as part of Happy Meals in the UK last summer - while the chain’s French restaurants have successfully included melon and kiwi in kids fruit bags. However, no decisions had been made, she stressed.

McDonald’s would also consider using licences on the bags to “reinvigorate kids’ interest in fruit,” she added but declined to be drawn on what those licenses might be.