Rebecca Huntley Columnist

Rebecca is a director of The Mind & Mood Report, an author and social commentator with a background in publishing, academia and politics. She holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies.

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Don’t blame McDonald’s: why countering the takeaway trend could be a business opportunity

Published 09 January 2014 10:22, Updated 15 January 2014 12:51

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Don’t blame McDonald’s: why countering the takeaway trend could be a business opportunity

McDonald’s is often used as a scapegoat. Michele Mossop

This year McDonald’s started an experiment with home delivery, something the fast food giant has been doing in parts of Asia for some time. North Parramatta McDonald’s has a McDelivery service offering “family value” packs between 5pm and 9pm every day.

This experiment provoked the expected outrage, as almost every move McDonald’s makes seems to do. It was pointed out that the marketing spruiking the service didn’t feature the restaurant’s healthier options and was operating in a postcode that has one of Sydney’s highest levels of obesity. McDelivery will just make it easier for fat people to remain fat.

While I am sympathetic to these arguments, I wonder if there are really any grounds to single out McDonald’s over any of the other fast food chains that do home delivery. What’s better for you: home delivered McDonald’s or home delivered Pizza Hut? Or for that matter the local Thai takeaway that also delivers fried food and noodle dishes swimming in fat and sugar?

Australians are becoming increasingly addicted to having everything home delivered; not just food but shoes, clothing, books, movies, homewares – you name it. Anything that means you might be able to avoid struggling through traffic to get to the shopping centre, struggling to find a park, struggling with your parcels to the car (when you find it) and then struggling to get home again. If we can get our wine and our gardening supplies home delivered, why not our McDonald’s?

I’ve written before about the rise and rise of takeaway food in the Australian diet and how a greater reliance on take-away might mean a further de-skilling of the population when it comes to cooking. The fewer opportunities we have to cook, the less likely we are going to hone our skills and make cooking quicker and easier.

Attacking McDonald’s for doing what pretty much every other fast food chain or local takeaway store does, ie. home delivery, is not the answer. The answer is to find effective and innovative ways to teach all Australians (regardless of age, life stage and background) that making a meal at home is as quick and as easy and as rewarding as waiting for the guy on the moped to arrive with your pizza. That is, however, a much harder task than beating up on one of the easiest targets in corporate Australia.

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