Food & DrinkLifestyle

McDonald’s Announces Removal of Self-Service Soda Stations Across All Restaurants

The Chicago-based fast food chain has confirmed its plans to remove these machines from all its U.S. restaurants by the year 2032.

Prepare to bid Farewell to Self-refilled Cokes at McDonald’s.

The Chicago-based fast food giant is set to phase out self-service soda machines at its U.S. restaurants by 2032, as confirmed this week. The fate of international locations remains uncertain. In an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday, McDonald’s USA revealed that the primary objective behind this change is to establish uniformity for both customers and staff, spanning the full spectrum of McDonald’s offerings, encompassing in-person dining, online delivery, and drive-thru services.

The company did not specify if any other considerations, such as financial or sanitation factors, played a role in the decision to discontinue the use of self-serve machines. For years, McDonald’s patrons have relied on these machines to conveniently refill their beverages without the need for additional interactions with a cashier.

Behind-the-counter soda machines are already in use at some other fast-food chains, and a few McDonald’s outlets across the country have already initiated the transition. As reported by The State Journal-Register, which first disclosed the company’s intentions last week, several locations in Illinois, for instance, have begun the process of phasing out self-service soda stations.

In recent years, analysts have highlighted shifts in consumer behavior due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a notable increase in digital and online delivery sales within the fast-food industry. Consequently, some chains have explored ways to improve their drive-thru experiences and strengthen their ties with food delivery apps. Examples include Chipotle expanding its Carside pickup locations and Domino’s forging a new partnership with Uber Eats.

During the second quarter of 2023, McDonald’s experienced a significant surge in digital sales, encompassing transactions made through its app, delivery services, and self-service kiosks. These digital sales constituted nearly 40% of the total systemwide sales. The company reported a remarkable 14% increase in revenue, reaching $6.5 billion for the quarter, which exceeded expectations. Furthermore, the net income nearly doubled, totaling $2.3 billion, further surpassing analysts’ projections. This robust performance reflects the growing importance of digital channels in McDonald’s business operations.

It’s worth noting that some of these gains may experience a slight slowdown in the latter half of the year. The price hikes that have played a role in driving McDonald’s sales over the past few quarters are expected to ease as inflation rates decrease. Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden made this observation during the Q2 earnings call held in July.

Rahul Sharma

My name is Rahul Sharma. As a passionate writer and explorer, I'm always seeking inspiration in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food & drink, and travel. With years of experience in the industry, I bring a unique perspective to my writing, blending my love for culture, style, and adventure.