Dairy Queen Taking Soda Off Kids’ Meal Menu

QSR owned by Coke shareholder Warren Buffett will offer choice of milk, bottled water

Dairy Queeen DQ Warrn Buffett Soda (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

EDINA, Minn. -- American Dairy Queen Corp. is removing carbonated soft drinks from its children’s menus, the quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain said in a letter to the consumer watchdog group the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“We have been working with our Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) on a proposal to remove soft drinks from the kids’ menu board at Dairy Queen locations across the country. Under our recommendation, drinks such as milk and bottled water would solely be listed as menu options at DQ locations,” William A. Barrier, executive vice president of product development and quality, wrote. “I am pleased to inform you that during our most recent meeting, the FAC voted unanimously to remove soft drinks from our kids’ menu. This change will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2015, when new menu board panels arrive at our franchise locations.”

He also said, however, that “nearly all of our DQ franchise locations are independently owned and operated. These businesses are operated under many different franchise agreements, most of which were consummated decades ago. … Although we are making this change to all of our menu boards, there are a few franchisees that do not receive our point-of-purchase materials so there could be some locations that elect not to follow our recommendation.”

The announcement makes the Edina, Minn.-based unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. the latest major QSR chain to remove soda and other sugary drinks from children’s menus. McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have each made similar moves this year said the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Subway, Chipotle, Arby’s and Panera also do not include soda as the default option with their kids’ meals.

Buffett is an avid Cherry Coke drinker and a loyal former Coca-Cola Co. board member, said a report by The Wall Street Journal. Berkshire Hathaway is the biggest shareholder in Coke, which derives about 70% of its sales from soda and is the leading beverage supplier to U.S. restaurants. Dairy Queen confirmed for the newspaper that that Coke is its biggest supplier. PepsiCoInc. and Dr Pepper Snapple GroupInc. also supply Dairy Queen.