Vol. 3, Issue 4, February 8, 2005
McDonald's Rebounds in Japan, Thanks To McPossum Sandwich
A regional specialty McDonald's sandwich has found unexpected popularity in Japan, prompting investors to take a closer look at the long-ailing company and the possibility of expanding other regional sandwiches in global markets.
Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner commented, "From a financial perspective, 2004 was a tremendous year for McDonald's. Our success in Japan has been a key part of that, and we are definitely looking at ways to build on this unexpected boom."
McDonald's Holdings Japan, half-owned by the U.S. company, had posted a net loss of $63 million in 2003 and dissolved its partnership with the original investors who brought the franchise to Japan. Investors were surprised, then, when McDonald's Japan rebounded and posted a record profit of $88 million in 2004, largely based on the runaway success of the McPossum sandwich.
"It is tasty, it is the best food, my life is complete because of this sandwich!" said Hideki Tamomoto, of Tokyo. "I thought American food was childish and disgusting, but this extraordinary dish shows you understand the soul of Japan!"
Although McDonald's is infamous for its unvarying core menu, it has for many years offered regional and seasonal menu items, including such items as lobster salad sandwiches in Maine and diminutive po'boys in New Orleans. The McPossum is a regional specialty sandwich offered in Alabama during the summer.
A chance meeting that brought an executive from McDonald's Japan, Eiko Harada, to Mobile, Alabama convinced McDonald's to try exporting this particular product.
"It was an unbelievable combination of taste sensations in my mouth," said Harada. "I knew right away that this humble sandwich was possessed of a succulent flavor that could not fail to resonate with the Japanese palate! I brought three dozen sandwiches with me on the plane back home! It was not enough!"
The McPossum has indeed proved wildly popular in Japan, accounting for nearly all of that country's franchise profits despite the increasing cost of the meat.
"Our suppliers in Clanton (Alabama) have tripled their prices this year," said Skinner. "But because we can charge so much for the McPossum in Japan, and because all our sandwiches have manageably constrained percentages of actual meat, we are still coming out ahead."
"The sandwich is so delicious. I love it so much!" said Kasumi Ikeda, of Nagasaki. "However, I cannot quite put my finger on the secret ingredient. Is McPossum made from some kind of chicken?"