Brad Blum, CEO of Burger King

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, May 7, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Burger King wants the burger crown back. The fast-food giant out with a new plan that it hopes will grill the competition and turn the struggling company around. Here now to explain, the man who runs Burger King, Brad Blum. Mr. Blum, good to have you.

BRAD BLUM, CEO, BURGER KING: Hi, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: I’m fine. I’ve never understood a guy like you who runs one of the largest fast food concerns on the planet is thin, but you’ve done it. Hats off to you.

BLUM: Well, I love the Burger King food, but I do a lot of exercise also.

CAVUTO: Good for you. You know, there is just this rage in this country all of a sudden against the food police, like you were saying that your food is the death of America and Americans, what do you say?

BLUM: Well, we are really proud of the burgers that we sell, and we are all about providing them with the best burgers in the business, and we also are working very hard to provide a variety of healthy alternatives as well.

And Neil, the thing that sets us apart in the quick serve category is the fact that we cook our food over an open fire, we have spent a lot of time talking with consumers in the past several months since I have been here -- and they say that the food has a lot better flavor naturally when you cook it over an open fire, results in a much better tasting product, that it’s fresher and is a healthier alternative when you cook over an open fire, so we think we are going to be providing some advantages for the consumer, as we go forward here with the new direction for the company.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you. McDonald’s done this, Wendy’s have been doing it to some degree, and has now expanded its line of healthier affair. Is this in response maybe to sort head off at the pass some of these lawsuits and the like targeting you guys for making Americans fat?

BLUM: No, really what we are doing here is we are just paying a lot of attention to what the consumer is asking for. And for instance, we have developed a new product that will soon be introduced that is chicken cooked over an open fire with some other ingredients in the sandwich. It has only got four grams of fat in it, and we are really focusing on great taste, and then the idea that it has four grams of fat is a great combination, I know this is so basic, but people are not going to get the healthy benefit unless they eat it, and really focusing on great taste along with a low amount fat in the product, we think is going to be part of the success here.

So we are really focused on quality, on innovation, on differentiation in the category. We want to provide a lot of leadership here. And I just addressed the franchisee community yesterday. We had a large group, over 1,600 people, in Dallas, and we really aligned around this. And in addition, we really want to provide great operations, excellence in the restaurants so that they have a better consumer experience.

CAVUTO: But are you worried that fast food is going to be sort of like the tobacco of the 2000s, that you just, no matter what you do, it won’t be good enough?

BLUM: We don’t feel that way. We think that, again, as long as we provide great variety with our food and great quality, that we will be able to have a good experience for the consumer. And I would say right now that the quick serve category has been under some duress here, from an image standpoint, and we really want to try to take leadership in this category, to move that forward.

We have got a number of locations across the country. We provide a lot of convenience. And with having high quality products, great taste and healthy benefits that we provide, we think that that is going to be helpful not only in this country but around the world.

CAVUTO: But do you ever get annoyed personally -- I don’t mean to box you into a corner there -- but that, look, people go to fast food place, that’s great that you are going to offer salads and healthy stuff, but people are wise enough to know what they are getting into. They like your food, they like the whoppers, the double whoppers or whatever, and they are grownups, they know what they are doing.

BLUM: Right.

CAVUTO: So does it bug you that people will try to make a legal issue out of it?

BLUM: Well, we love the fact that they enjoy our hamburgers, and we do not think it should be a legal issue, and if you even take that away from restaurants in general, people are cooking burgers across the country in their own backyards, they are grilling around the barbecue, they are sharing with family and friends, they are having a good time. I mean, I have been eating hamburgers from the time I was a little kid growing up in Ohio, and I’ve led a healthy lifestyle and a very active lifestyle, and but we, you know, I also love the fact that we are coming out with these other products that are low in fat, and I just think that we have a bit of an image problem, but we really want to work to improve that as we go forward.

CAVUTO: All right, Brad Blum, thank you very much, Burger King’s CEO, appreciate it.

BLUM: Thank you very much, Neil. Take care.

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