Taco Bell says adios to kids' meals
The fast-food chain says it's focusing on millennials, but nutritionists had targeted the children's offerings as unhealthy.
The days of buying kids' meals at Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell are numbered.
The fast-food chain plans to stop selling the kiddie meals in January 2014, in a move USA Today says will "shock the fast-food industry."
Taco Bell is the first national chain to entirely drop its line of children's offerings, which nutritionists frequently single out as failing to provide healthy, balanced meals. Taco Bell is also dropping toys, one way fast-food restaurants including McDonald's (MCD) attract families.
Critics complain that including toys in kids' meals entices families to overlook the often calorie-laden foods. In 2011, San Francisco banned fast-food restaurants from including toys in their kids' meals unless the food meets nutritional standards, such as having fewer than 600 calories.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocate for health issues, applauded Taco Bell's decision as a "constructive step forward by no longer using toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to that restaurant." It added that more than 90% of kids' meals fail to meet industry nutrition standards.
But Taco Bell chief executive Greg Creed told USA Today the reason for eliminating kids' meals boils down to focusing on the company's core audience: people in their late teens to mid-20s.
"This is about positioning the brand for Millennials," he told the publication. "The future of Taco Bell is not about kids meals."
Taco Bell is much less reliant on kids' meals than rival McDonald's. Only about 0.5% of Taco Bell's sales stem from them, while Mickey D's looks to its Happy Meals to provide 10% of sales, Advertising Age notes.
For the Mexican-themed restaurant, the bottom line is that kids' meals weren't providing enough moolah or coolness to "live mas." Taco Bell's Creed added: "It's fairly inconsistent for an edgy, twentysomething brand to offer kids meals."
Aimee Picchi owns shares in Yum and hasn't traded the stock in at least 12 months. Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Taco Bell just realized their market is drunk and stoned college kids.
That is why they are "Open Late".
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