McDonald’s and Instacart Executives Talk Competition, Data, and Keeping French Fries Warm

The competition between Instacart and McDonald’s is only heating up as the eating habits of consumers continue to change.

Speaking Wednesday during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday, McDonald’s senior vice president of corporate strategy Lucy Brady acknowledged that the fast food giant “absolutely” views the popular online grocery delivery service as a competitor. After all, every time a person uses the Instacart app to schedule a delivery of peanut butter and jelly for a quick dinner, that’s one less Big Mac to be sold.

“With delivery making it easy for people to get food at home, we need to be thinking about how to meet customer demands,” Brady said.

One way Brady said McDonald’s is looking to meet customer expectations is by analyzing feedback, which will help the company keep up with trends in people’s eating habits. For instance, McDonald’s customers would rather their french fries be piping hot than cold and stale, which could pose an issue if they happened to order a McDonald’s meal via delivery.

Brady said that McDonald’s monitored a lot of customer data during the company’s trial delivery experiments in the U.S. to gauge whether those customers were pleased with the quality of their fries. She said that McDonald’s studied everything from whether new packaging “innovations” could help keep fries hot to whether workers should put the fries in bags at the absolutely last moment.

Ultimately, she said that the company “exceeded expectations,” although it probably helps that “70% of the population lives within 10 minutes of a McDonald’s.”

As for new food trends, Brady said that “plant-based protein is something we’re keeping our eye on,” referring to the rising popularity of food upstarts like Impossible Foods that are trying to create vegetarian-versions of hamburgers that taste like the real deal.

As for Instacart, the company’s vice president of business development Sarah Mastrorocco said that executives are “seeing strong demand” for “ready-to-eat meals” that can be easily heated and quick to prepare.

It turns out that even with the ability to get food from grocery chains delivered, people are still turning to fast food.

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