Barilla and McDonald’s team up to serve pasta at the fast-food chain The food purists must be shrieking with horror. A new partnership has been sealed that brings together what many would think of as the opposites: fast food and Italian cuisine. As unlikely as it may sound, the worldwide king of the fast food chains, McDonald’s, and the famous Italian pasta brand Barilla have signed a deal for McDonald’s restaurants in Italy to start serving pasta salads using Barilla products. From the end of May, McDonald’s new menu item is Barilla’s wholegrain pennette, described as “flavorful and rich in fiber” and with a “skillfully balanced mix of tuna fish, tomatoes, bell peppers, capers and olives, flavored with a touch of oregano and salt.” “We are proud to be launching this partnership with Barilla, the symbolic company for pasta and a true icon of Made in Italy,” Roberto Masi, CEO of McDonald’s Italy, announced. “For McDonald’s, the launch of the pasta salad represents a crucial step in its drive to get closer to Italian tastes, flavors and habits. McDonald’s has been carrying out with commitment and success this strategy of using typical Italian products.” In recent years in fact, McDonald’s Italy, along with its burgers and fries, has been adding typical Italian products like Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, mozzarella and speck to its offerings trying to lure Italians, typically devoted to their food traditions and wary of standardized fare, into its restaurants. “We are delighted to be contributing to McDonald’s campaign to expand its range of quality Italian products,” echoed Claudio Colzani, CEO of the Barilla Group. “Thanks to the Barilla pasta, McDonald’s range is getting closer and closer to a Mediterranean dietary model: not just tasty, but also balanced from a nutritional point of view and respectful of the environment.” At €4,90 for a single portion it may come cheap, but still, it remains to be seen how many Italians will be willing to eat their pasta out of a plastic pack in the shrine of the fast food. It was after all in Italy that the now global Slow Food movement was created as a response to the introduction of the first McDonald’s restaurant in the country in 1986. Italy’s biggest daily newspaper Corriere della Sera commented on the new partnership as “two worlds colliding: quality and speed, tradition and modernity.” Regardless of this, if the Italian-American strategy goes well, plans are to expand the introduction of Barilla pasta on McDonald’s menus to other European countries, starting with the ones with a similar Mediterranean diet, like France, Spain and Portugal.
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