Macca's now offering table delivery service and UberEats

WHEN the first McDonald's restaurant opened in 1940 in San Bernardino, California, there were only nine items on the original menu.

A hamburger would have set you back just 15 cents and a carton of "Refreshing Cold Milk" - yes, that was a thing - cost 12 cents.

Now there are more than 100 items on the menu and the Australian branch of the fast food behemoth pulls in around $5 billion in sales annually.

But as the booming "wellness" industry rides on the billion-dollar coat tails of the global movement towards healthier eating, McDonald's has had to make a decision - get on board or watch profits decline.

"We want to be a part of people's everyday lives and choices and to do that you need to offer more than just hamburgers and fries," McDonald's Australia's chief operating officer Shaun Ruming told

"There's huge growth in salads, wraps and people buying water and coffee [10 per cent of McDonald's sales are from coffee]," Mr Ruming said.

"If you're not modern and progressive and keeping up with what the trends are, then our customers are going to go to other places. There's a lot of choice out there so we have to make sure McDonald's is one of those choices."

This week McDonald's launched two major changes: table service in "75-85 per cent" of its restaurants and a partnership with food delivery service UberEats.

McDonald's has been running its own delivery service for three years, in limited stores, but receiving mounting pressure from customers to partner with an existing app.

"We kept on getting messages from customers saying 'Why aren't you guys on Uber and why can't I order it? When are you going to do that?'" Mr Ruming said.

"The delivery market in Australia is a multi-billion dollar industry. We think that's an important thing for us to be involved in."

And yes, if you want a 15-year-old Macca's worker to bring your fries directly to your table, they'll be happy to do it.

"In some of the food courts you can't do [table service], but most of our restaurants will be offering table delivery," Mr Ruming said.

"It's particularly popular with mums and people who don't want to stand at the counter. They want to sit down and wait while someone brings out their food."

Other changes implemented over the past 12 months include a new gourmet burger range, novelty items such as the Chicken Big Mac and Loaded Fries, store revamps and a partnership with Snapchat allowing job applicants to submit their resumes via the popular app.

"We kept getting told 'We want to buy hamburgers and we want them to be top quality, made from ingredients sources in Australia and we want to understand the ingredients and where they come from', so we did that," Mr Ruming said.

"And now when you go into our restaurants, they look very different from what they used to."

The consequences of failing to evolve are dire. As global soft drink sales plummet, Coca Cola Amatil has become so desperate that it has considered selling the gut-health drink kombucha.

Speaking at the company's annual meeting in May, chief executive Alison Watkins said "functional beverages" such as kombucha present a very lucrative opportunity.

"It's definitely an area where we can do more but at the same time our core brands from the Coca-Cola portfolio are hugely important," Ms Watkins said. "It's really about being a total beverage company."

McDonald's, according to Mr Ruming, has no limits on what it will serve to its increasingly fussy customers.

"[Changing consumer trends] don't scare me. It challenges us to be on the front foot of what those trends are. We just continue to ask people, 'What do you like? What do you enjoy?' and try to provide that.

"I remember asking one of our former managing directors, 'What are people going to be eating in 10 to 15 years time? And he said 'I don't know, but we will be serving them what they want to eat'."

News Corp Australia

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