McDonald's Southern California restaurants testing kale as part of turnaround effort

LOS ANGELES - McDonald's Corp, which is testing a variety of new food products as part of a major turnaround effort, on Wednesday said nine southern California restaurants are trying out breakfast bowls made with what is becoming a state dietary staple: kale.

One of the breakfast bowls is made with turkey sausage, egg white, kale and spinach and the other includes chorizo and egg. Both are priced around US$4 (S$5.29), said McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb.

Kale, touted as a nutrient-rich "superfood", over the last five years has been growing in popularity in the United States, both in grocery produce aisles and on restaurant menus.

McDonald's rivals Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc and other quick-service chains such as Jack in the Box Inc and Yum Brands Inc's Taco Bell over the past few years have helped to popularise bowls, which are typically made with meat or another protein, rice or another starch and vegetables.

Separately, Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski said in a client note on Wednesday that McDonald's restaurants in Canada will soon begin offering three salads made with kale as an ingredient.

McDonald's declined to comment directly on Kalinowski's Canada kale news, saying instead that the company is constantly testing new products. "We'll share news on our menu when the time is right," McComb added.

Adding kale to menus would be a significant departure from the norm at the world's biggest fast-food chain.

Earlier this year McDonald's aired a burger ad that advised: "All vegetarians, foodies and gastronauts kindly avert your eyes. You can't get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa."

The ad then flashed to the lettuce on the burger and the announcer says: "Nor will that ever be kale."

McDonald's is reworking and trimming its large and complicated menu, which has slowed service and failed to keep pace with rising demand for fresher, less processed food.

New McDonald's Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook on Monday unveiled the first steps in the company's strategy to revive sales, lure back diners and transform the iconic fast-food chain into a "modern, progressive burger company".

The plans, which include reorganizing McDonald's business units, selling restaurants to franchisees and cutting corporate expenses, fell flat with investors, who had been looking for more specific fixes for menus and service speed.