Feedstuffs: Wendy’s Announces major advancement in beef sourcing

The Wendy’s Co. announced Dec. 12 an industry-leading step that will allow the company to better understand and communicate how cattle for Wendy’s fresh beef hamburgers are raised, facilitating advancements in areas such as animal care, antibiotics and sustainability. The move comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this year that the company was transitioning its tomato supply to vine-ripened tomatoes exclusively from greenhouse farms.

The Wendy’s Co. announced Dec. 12 an industry-leading step that will allow the company to better understand and communicate how cattle for Wendy’s fresh beef hamburgers are raised, facilitating advancements in areas such as animal care, antibiotics and sustainability. The move comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this year that the company was transitioning its tomato supply to vine-ripened tomatoes exclusively from greenhouse farms.

Wendy’s said it is proud to be the first restaurant chain to partner with the Progressive Beef program, an innovative animal care and sustainability program that is built on industry-leading best practices and third-party verification. Adoption of the program will be implemented in a significant part of its beef supply starting in 2019, with at least 50% by 2021, further delivering on Wendy’s commitment to enhanced beef supply chain accountability, transparency and traceability.

The program focuses on three core areas:

  1. Cattle care — Providing a safe, humane environment for cattle through staff training on management practices and hands-on veterinary care.
  2. Food safety and antibiotic use — Responsibly using antibiotics under the supervision of a veterinarian and with thorough record-keeping, strictly adhering to withdrawal times, utilizing hazard analysis and critical control points principles and ensuring a clean and safe environment for the animals.
  3. Environmental sustainability — Responsibly utilizing natural resources while investing in the people who care for the cattle and the local communities through staff training and certification.

Efforts in these areas will be verified by U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved auditors. Each audit is a report card, and the metrics involved play a key role in finding and making improvements.

Beyond finalizing the new partnership with Progressive Beef, Wendy’s said it has also made progress on existing commitments related to its beef supply chain.

In 2018, Wendy’s fulfilled its commitment to source 100% of its beef from Beef Quality Assurance-certified sources – hitting this milestone a year ahead of schedule. Wendy’s also sourced nearly 20% of its beef from producers who have each tracked and reduced their use of medically important antibiotics.

“Wendy’s is committed to continuing our work quantifying antibiotic use in our supply chain and further reducing use of antibiotics where possible,” the company said.

Wendy’s also regularly consults with outside experts from academia, animal agriculture and veterinary medicine to support animal care and welfare decisions, and this year, the company expanded the council to include more external professionals.

Greenhouse tomatoes

As part of its ongoing commitment to sourcing fresh, high-quality produce, Wendy’s also recently announced an initiative to source vine-ripened tomatoes for its North American restaurants exclusively from greenhouse farms by early 2019. Most of these tomatoes will be sourced from the U.S. and Canada, giving Wendy’s customers the benefit of fresh, great-tasting tomatoes from sources that match its North American restaurant footprint.

“This move further strengthens our commitment to responsible sourcing practices by providing safe, indoor working conditions, shelter from the elements and environmental contaminants, reduced water and land use burdens and a significantly reduced need for chemical pesticides,” the company said, adding that the move was a first-of-its-kind sourcing strategy for a U.S.-based quick-service restaurant of Wendy’s scale.