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McSmoothie? They’re considering it

Smoothies, iced coffee and other specialty coffees could be added to the menu at U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, a top executive of the world’s largest restaurant chain said Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Smoothies, iced coffee and other specialty coffees could be added to the menu at U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, a top executive of the world’s largest restaurant chain said Wednesday.

Ralph Alvarez, president and chief operating officer of McDonald’s Corp., said the company is exploring those drinks and others as it seeks “destination beverages” to bring new customers to its restaurants.

“Our beverages have really been complementary to a sandwich purchase,” he said at a conference sponsored by Bear Stearns in New York. “That’s the space we offer it in. So we are going after destination beverages that attract visits from customers to McDonald’s throughout the day.”

McDonald’s already has scored a hit beverage recently with the addition of premium coffee to its more than 13,700 U.S. restaurants a year ago. Alvarez said coffee unit volume is up 15 percent as a result.

The introduction of a higher-priced coffee was part of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain’s push to grow its breakfast business, and Alvarez made clear that expansion effort remains a top priority as reflected by aggressive marketing and new products.

The company is also planning a rollout of the cinnamon melt, which Alvarez described as a warm, pull-apart sweet roll with cinnamon glaze. It is to be rolled out in 11,000 U.S. McDonald’s restaurants by summer.

“Customers recognize that McDonald’s is now more than a hamburger restaurant,” he said in remarks broadcast on the Internet. “We’re also about chicken, we’re about salads, and very importantly we’re about breakfast.”

Despite the push on other products, he noted, McDonald’s still sells more hamburgers than it did four years ago.

McDonald’s shares fell 74 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $43.72 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.