McDonald's is selling fewer sodas with Happy Meals

McDonald’s Corp. said less than half of its U.S. customers are choosing soda for their Happy Meals after the company stopped listing the drinks as an option on menus last July.

According to a report by Keybridge, a consulting firm retained by McDonald’s to conduct the study, 48% of customers from July 2014 to May 2015 chose soda as a beverage in their Happy Meals, down from 56% during the same period before the report.

McDonald’s said Thursday that the results are an effort to track the company’s progress on its 2013 pledge with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation made at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

In the pledge, McDonald’s agreed to increase customers’ access to fruits and vegetables while helping families make informed choices for healthful and balanced lifestyles.

In addition to the pledge, McDonald’s agreed to offer side salads, vegetables and fruits as an alternative to French fries in 20 major markets around the globe by 2020. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Assn.

The report was based on surveys of 100 restaurants in the United States and 81 locations in Italy.

McDonald’s, which recently announced it was removing antibiotics from its chicken products, has been trying to change perceptions that its food is not healthful. The company has been losings customers to chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. that market their food as high quality or all natural.

In the latest quarter, revenue for Chipotle increased 20% while McDonald’s fell 11%.

Shares of McDonald’s fell 85 cents to close at $95.79.

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