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Can oatmeal save Burger King?
Faced with declining sales, the home of the Whopper is hoping Quaker Oats can help it keep up with changing breakfast trends
Burger King joins the list of fast-food chains trying to clean up an unhealthy image by adding an oatmeal breakfast option, but critics say it may be too late.
Burger King joins the list of fast-food chains trying to clean up an unhealthy image by adding an oatmeal breakfast option, but critics say it may be too late.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
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irst Starbucks, then McDonald's, now Burger King. Following a fast-food trend, the nation's second largest burger chain has started selling Quaker oatmeal for breakfast, as part of a larger reinvention effort. The home of the Whopper has seen a sharp decline in sales in recent years — in the 2011 second quarter alone, profits dropped 13 percent. In addition to the oatmeal, BK has also launched a new burger ad campaign that focuses on the fresh vegetables, not just the meat, between the bun. Can oatmeal and a healthier image help Burger King get back on track?

Yawn. Burger King is behind the times: "The chain comes a bit late to the oatmeal trend," says Emily Bryson York in the Chicago Tribune. Starbucks began selling oatmeal in 2008, and other chains, like Jamba Juice, quickly followed suit. McDonald's launched its oatmeal nearly a year ago. There's nothing all that new or exciting here.
"Burger King adds Quaker oatmeal to breakfast menu"

But if it worked for McDonald's... For McD's, adding oatmeal to the menu and other healthier items, seems to have paid off, says Allison Linn at MSNBC. In McDonald's last earnings report, oatmeal was credited with boosting U.S. breakfast sales, and, analysts say, the company ranks number 1, above even Subway, for "customer perception of brand value and healthy choice." It seems Burger King is taking note and "realizing that offering an average-tasting burger for a low price may not be enough."
"Some fast food gets a fresh makeover"

And BK has an advantage — brand-name oatmeal: Burger King may be late to the oatmeal party, but unlike its competitors, it's not just serving any old, generic oats. BK is smartly partnering with Quaker Oats, says food consultant Darren Tristano, as quoted at WBEZ, which should help it achieve a "better perception." Ideally, the Quaker brand will persuade customers to pick Burger King oatmeal over other options.
"Oatmeal? The hot item on fast food menus"

Still, it's not what Burger King needs: "People don't go to Burger King or McDonald's for their oatmeal," says analyst Steve West, as quoted by the Associated Press. "They go for an Egg McMuffin." Even if BK sells a ton of oatmeal and smoothies and other new healthy offerings, it won't be enough to rejuvenate Burger King. "They've got to remodel the stores," many of which are looking "very old and rundown."

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