McDonald's Corp. is dropping the Minute Maid apple juice box from its Happy Meals and replacing it with a watered-down, organic juice with less sugar made by Honest Kids.
The change, set for November, is the latest step in the evolution of the Happy Meal toward healthier options and one that shows how shifting consumer tastes have prompted Coca-Cola Co., which owns both Minute Maid and Honest Kids, to broaden its portfolio of beverages to include lower-calorie options.
Parents are increasingly turning away from 100% fruit juice in favor of water and other drinks with less sugar. McDonald's nutritionist Cindy Goody said the latest Happy Meal menu change was driven by feedback from parents who wanted a healthier beverage choice.
Mary Lozano, a 33-year-old mom in Los Angeles, who was dining at a McDonald's this week, said she would like to see a broader selection of healthy items in Happy Meals, such as carrots, mixed-fruit cups or apple sauce. But, she said, "I don't know how much more they can do without going way off their menu."
The 6-ounce Honest Kids Appley Ever After box contains more water than juice -- it is 42% apple juice. It has 10 fewer grams of sugar and half the calories of the 6-ounce Minute Maid box, which is 100% apple juice. Both are made from concentrate. Coca-Cola declined to comment on any financial effect from the switch.