Tuesday, July 29, 2014

McDonald's Japan pulls profit forecast after China meat scandal

McDonald's Japan pulls profit forecast after China meat scandal

We watched clips from Ms. Casanova's press conference on the news last night.  McDonald's Japan has taken a sucker punch from this chicken scandal, hasn't it?  Especially with the news sales are down here.  This is my simple way of putting it.  In the fast food world there are different kinds of sales, some of which are better than others.  My understanding is McDonald's overall isn't very happy with whatever sales they're getting here in Japan.

Which is really hard to imagine because McDonald's is one of those ubiquitous brands here, almost as common as any given convenience store chain.  I mean, they're all over.  Maybe they've oversaturated the market.  Maybe public taste has changed.  For whatever reason, McDonald's isn't having an easy time of it in Japan right now and the news some of their chicken is rotten or else came off the factory floor isn't likely to help.

Back in the US, we rarely eat at McDonald's.  The store quality varies.  Sometimes they're clean and you get excellent service.  Other times the location is a shithole and the employees can't hide how angry they are that you came in to buy food from them.  And then there's the food itself.  Bad for you, not all that tasty, sometimes fresh, sometimes stale and old.  I will admit to craving McDonald's French fries from time to time, but I haven't really had the desire to eat a hamburger there since I was approximately 16 years old.

But in Japan, it's a bit different.  I got into the McDonald's habit when I taught English for the McDonald's of conversation schools and I need a quick lunch or dinner.  That's a poor excuse for poor eating, but there you have it.  The eikawa teaching cliché.  It turned out I have a weakness for burgers with fried eggs on them.  The wife has none of my snobbery and appreciation for the fast food burger hierarchy we adhered to back home, so to her, McDonald's is just another place to eat without stigma or shame.  So we go there when we're feeling lazy or we've been working too hard to contemplate cooking or even going someplace fancier.

Like MosBurger.

Japanese McDonald's tend to be clean and efficient.  You're not likely to get the same level of service you would at the better US locations, where employees might chat with you a little and make you feel like a valued person.  Japanese fast food managers would scold the hell out of an employee taking such liberties here.  Although back in my single days, one employee and I carried on a covert flirtation in my bad Japanese and her scattering of English.  Little bon mots passed sotto voce and the like, little eye contact here and there, extra smiles and sympathetic facial expressions passed before I approached the register.  I mean by Japanese McDonald's standards, she really took liberties.  She even told me her name.  But while you can't always expect that kind of personalized cash register experience, your dealings with McDonald's employees are many times more likely to be pleasant and positive than in the US.  Also, you get a lot of specialty sandwiches that aren't available back home and many of them are surprisingly delicious.  Spicy chicken whatevers and crazy beef this-n-that's.

The last time we went to McDonald's was just a few days before this scandal hit.  And I had a McChicken sandwich, or whatever the hell it's called.  Probably had a chicken patty right off the factory floor, probably walked on, too.  Beats spit on, I suppose.  And at least it was cooked thoroughly.  While I probably guaranteed myself an extra heart attack within the next five years by eating it, I didn't notice any immediate after effects beyond no longer feeling hungry.  Still, it looks as if we'll be eating at MosBurger and Freshness Burger for the foreseeable future.  Sorry, Ronald.

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