Monday, June 20, 2016 by Greg White
In an effort to boost profits, there is a nugget of gold lurking among McDonald’s chicken nuggets in Japan.
In April, the fast food chain unleashed a big mac loaded with three times the amount of meat. Currently, the industry has organized a Willy Wonka themed competition in Japan, offering customers the chance to win an 18-karat gold chicken nugget.
The company is urging customers to tweet photos of a mysterious nugget thief named Kaito Nugget, otherwise known as the Phantom Thief Nugget. According a press statement, twitter users can participate in the contest by posting photos and clues about Phantom Thief Nugget’s situation along with the hashtag ＃怪盗ナゲッツ, meaning Kaito Nuggets in Japanese. The competition is intended to promote McDonald’s new dipping sauces, fruits curry sauce, and creamy cheddar cheese.
As the McDonald’s press release states:
“He may appear in some of McDonald’s restaurants through the country, may throw out a ceremonial first pitch for a professional baseball game, or pay a visit to a prefectural governor making a surprising request entertaining people.”
McDonald’s said they would also give the 21 runner-ups a free five-piece pack of nuggets along with the two new sauces.
The fast food giant has been struggling in Japan. Although the competition has received significant traction on social media, it won’t necessarily help boost sales for McDonald’s in Japan. The company had an operation loss of approximately $215 million in 2015, which was more than three times its losses the year before. McDonald’s closed approximately 130 stores last year.
The loss followed in the foot trails of a humiliating scandal, which included its Chinese supplier, Shanghai Husi Foods, which is believed to have sold expired meat to its customers. Just one month following the scandal, another customer discovered a human tooth lurking in a serving of french fires. McDonald’s has been struggling with a shortage of imported American spuds, which caused a french fry rationing of its 3,100 Japanese outlets.
But why is McDonald’s failing to thrive in Japan like it does in the United States? In an article for Japan Today, corporate consultant and author Masaru Komatsuda blamed McDonald’s shortcomings in Japan on “structural problems”:
“First of all, its meals provide excessive calories. If you look at a branch located in the suburbs, you can clearly see that as many as half the customers in the store are middle-aged persons. Any business executive seeing this would immediately feel a sense of alarm.”
In addition, the Japanese people are considerably healthier in comparison to Americans. For example, a Teri-tama Burger, which consists of a patty with teriyaki and a fried egg, alongside medium sized fries and a cafe late, clocks in at 1,157 kilocalories. By contrast, a Nami-mori” beef bowl, miso soup and fresh veggies served as a set at Yoshinoya outlets has only 712 kilocalories. In other words, Japanese people are concerned about the quality of their food – not the quantity of its calories.
Another variable that has tarnished McDonald’s reputation in Japan are poor hygiene standards. Employees working on an hourly basis are assigned more and more tasks with labor shortages abound. As a result, some tasks are regarded as less important than otherns, like cleaning up after customers in dining areas and restrooms.
In short: as McDonald’s sinks like a ship in Japan, any attempts to restore its health conscientious image will be thrown overboard.