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The Punt: Happier meals at McDonald's?


Big Mac

Big Mac

Big Mac

If you're wondering why your McDonald's burger bun is a little toastier than usual, it's deliberate.

It's all part of the strategy to reinvigorate the brand. Your burger might taste a little different also.

The fast-food chain announced it is toasting its sandwich buns longer and changing how it sears and grills hamburgers, part of an effort to reinvigorate growth with "hot, tasty food". The increased toasting time makes the sandwiches hotter, while the new grilling technique produces juicier burgers, Steve Easterbrook, the restaurant chain's chief executive, said at an investment conference in New York in recent days.

"These little things add up to big differences for our customers," Easterbrook said. "We're recommitting to tastier food across the menu."

Having taken up the top job in March, he's trying to pull the company out of a prolonged slump. Global sales fell in 2014 for the first time in over a decade, while the US has posted declines for six straight quarters.

As part of the push, it's testing a slimmed-down menu for drive-thru customers, offering about half as many items as usual.

In recent months, McDonald's has debuted "artisan" chicken and a new premium sirloin burger.

The company is now looking at other potential changes that would improve food quality, while keeping a close eye on costs.

Reinvigorating the brand must be a mouth-watering prospect for Easterbrook.

TCD team flies flag for Ireland

Budding student engineers from Trinity College will be jetting off to Stanford University this week to be Ireland's representatives at a global design innovation network showcase.

That's no mean feat. The young engineers will present high-quality and fully functional prototypes they have created to help solve societal problems at an event that brings together teams from 16 world-leading universities spanning five continents.

Each year, Trinity's teams work on a diverse portfolio of projects with international partners that provide innovative solutions to the needs of different industries, across both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

This year's sponsors include a large multinational software company, an Irish SME that makes agricultural machinery, and not-for-profit charities in the healthcare sector.

The students taking part in the showcase completed the Innovation in Product Development course at Trinity that seeks to provide them with international collaborative experience.

The university said it's hoped that those skills will help create Ireland's innovators of tomorrow.

The Punt wishes them well.

Carney might feel deflated

Mark Carney may have spoken too soon.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England governor said Britons are "looking through" the current bout of deflation and showing a willingness to spend on big-ticket items.

His evidence?

A pick-up in GfK NOP's index of shoppers' readiness to make major purchases such as furniture or electrical goods.

"There's no sign of any behaviour that is consistent with a view, or any concern about widespread deflation," he told reporters at a May 13 press conference, where he also presented new economic forecasts. "People are not delaying purchases."

However, GfK's report shows shoppers are tightening their purse strings, and that suggests Carney may need to reconsider his outlook.

The gauge he cited dropped 4 points in May to the lowest level this year. The decline comes alongside a slide in a broad measure of consumer confidence.

Looks like Carney could be left a little red faced.

Irish Independent