In the late 1980s, McDonald’s was invincible.
The company opened its 10,000th store in 1988, 33 years after it was founded – only to double that number over the next eight years.
The final filings on the New York Stock Exchange before the early 90s show that Ronald, the Burger Burglar and the gang are generating chilly $ 3.8 billion in revenue.
What began as a single restaurant owned by two previously chronically unsuccessful brothers in California had grown to become the world’s first fast-food giant under the hungry eyes of businessman Ray Kroc.
The sight of a McDonald’s in every city in America and its rule over millions of hearts and bellies was not enough for the 90s CEO James Cantalupo.
He urged McDonald’s to become a ubiquitous sight in Europe and much of Asia, nearly tripling the number of international stores to 11,000 between 1991 and 1997.
Almost two years later, in January 1990, 5,000 people were lining up for a McDonald’s when the first Soviet branch – and then the largest in the world – opened in Moscow.
McDonald’s influence on the future of the fast food world seemed complete.
“Customers were used to our food, taste and quality,” Richard Bergfors, CEO of Max Burgers, told Mirror Online.
“They didn’t like McDonalds. McDonald’s had a tough time and eventually decided to sell the restaurants to us because they couldn’t make any money.
“We opened a Max Burger in the buildings they sold us.
“It hadn’t happened anywhere in the world. It was unknown.”
For the first time in its history, McDonald’s had not just been sold by a competitor, but was effectively banned from two cities where residents had remained loyal to the Swedish burger company.
According to Bergfors, no company in the world has competed with McDonald’s before or since.
The fact that the restaurant continues to hold off a company that has dominated the world’s major streets can tell a lot about the future of fast food.
Unlike most of the other fast food chains that recently hit the eco party, Max Burgers has always put its green credentials at the center of its marketing campaigns.
“Our company’s environmental focus has been something we’ve been doing since it was founded by my mom and dad as teenagers in 1968,” said Bergfors.
“It’s always been part of our DNA.
“It has changed over time, depending on the types of environmental and sustainability issues facing society.
“For the past 15 years we have been very focused on global warming and the climate.”
In 2008, Max became the first restaurant company in the world to measure both direct and indirect emissions from its products.
It found that 70% of its emissions came from cattle, which led the company to label its menu boards with carbon footprints for each product.
In recent years, the company has switched to wind-powered operations for its stores, discarded plastic, and committed to becoming carbon positive by absorbing 110% of its emissions.
“As a company and as a citizen, we can’t wait,” said the CEO, who also oversaw a three-year product to synthesize a new form of plant-based wheat-based beef.
“It is an urgent problem, every day is lost.”
Over the next few years, Max Burger plans to add more “green” options to its menu and not include red meat for every other meal that is sold – something that Mr. Bergfors says comes close.
In a country where recycling is practically a national sport, keeping such worthy ambitions in your heart and clearly writing about the paintwork of the restaurant has proven to be a solid commercial move.
Since 2006, the number of Burger Max restaurants worldwide has doubled to 120.
What has not yet been proven is whether it is a brand loyalty and a unique kind of environmental protection that has raised the company in Sweden, or whether the future of fast food has to be green to survive.
From a climatological point of view, the answer is important: given that meat and dairy products offer Only 18% of the calories and 37% of the protein in our modern diet, however, occupy 83% of the farmland and are responsible for 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
While Max Burger is responsible for a tiny fraction of that grand total, other larger companies have followed the environmental trend.
In 2012, McDonald’s Sweden joined the Haga Initiative, which means that it is committed to reducing its climate emissions by 40% by 2020.
The company now runs 80% of its logistics fleet in the country on renewable fuels, has started using trays made from recycled ocean plastic, and has banned balloons.
Regarding the Burger Wars, McDonald’s has not given up colonizing parts of Sweden from which it was once banned.
“McDonald’s in Sweden has had restaurants in Umeå (2 restaurants that opened in 1998 and 2000) and Luleå (opened in 2006) for many years,” said a company spokesman.
“When it comes to Northern Sweden, we have restaurants in several cities and last year we opened new restaurants in Skellefteå and Bollnäs.
“Next year we will open in Örnsköldsvik and Gävle (3 restaurants in Gävle).
“Northern Sweden is our priority and the guests are delighted that we are expanding in this part of the country.
“McDonald’s in Sweden plans to grow 25 to 30 restaurants over the next four to five years.”