Wendy's has announced that it is partnering with its suppliers to use 20 percent smaller birds—far surpassing the standards of other restaurant brands. While chicken-quality issues around toughness have been reported across the industry, the chain says that this change will significantly and immediately improve the tenderness and juiciness of chicken for Wendy's U.S.-based customers.
Over the past year, Wendy's has improved cooking procedures, launched a better-tasting and better-for-you Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and is now making a nearly $30 million system-wide investment to implement the change to smaller birds across all U.S. Wendy's restaurants. While the size of its sandwiches will remain the same, the chicken Wendy's serves will become more delicious and tender.
"The quality of our food sets us apart from everyone else," said Todd Penegor, president and CEO at Wendy's. "We're making this change because we've seen that smaller birds provide a big benefit for our customers who deserve to eat the most tender and juicy chicken."
Wendy's journey to improve the chicken that it serves every day has included:
- Recrafting the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with a better-for-you option that tastes great. Wendy's thaws the chicken prior to cooking, creating a delicious sear and a more flavorful chicken breast. The chicken is served on a new multi-grain bun with a fresh cut tomato and spring mix.
- While Wendy's chicken has always been MSG free, Wendy's also removed artificial flavors, preservatives and colors from artificial sources.
- Wendy's created one of the industry's first Animal Welfare Advisory Councils in 2001 to review and strengthen animal care standards by suppliers. Many of these standards were later adopted industry-wide.
- On chicken, Wendy's employs a team of in-house animal welfare experts who strictly audit chicken welfare from hatchery to broiler house to processing facility, ensuring suppliers provide carefully formulated and nutritional feed, access to clean water, adequate room to grow, veterinary oversight and proper handling. Wendy's auditors will work closely with suppliers to ensure implementation of the new bird size specifications.
- In 2016, Wendy's committed to eliminate the use of all antibiotics important to human medicine in its chicken by the end of 2017.
Wendy's suppliers are working hand-in-hand with the brand's supply chain co-op, quality assurance and animal welfare experts to implement the changes across the entire U.S. supply of Wendy's premium chicken breasts through the second quarter of 2017 and all suppliers are already raising birds to the new specification.