Wendy’s only uses fresh-cracked, Grade-A eggs on our breakfast sandwiches, and our U.S. egg suppliers are required to have independent, third-party audits conducted annually by PAACO-certified auditors.
We work closely with our suppliers and industry experts as part of our responsible sourcing goal and through the Wendy’s Animal Care Standards Program to drive continuous improvement.
Wendy’s intentional approach to animal health and well-being carries over to how we source eggs, including the journey we’ve taken to source the fresh-cracked eggs that star on our U.S. breakfast sandwiches.
In 2016, breakfast was an optional menu offering for operators, and only a few hundred Wendy’s restaurants in the U.S. and a handful in Canada served breakfast. At that time, we committed to source 100% of our eggs for those breakfast locations from a cage-free environment by 2020.
As of year-end 2020, we met that commitment. Today, we source a volume of eggs from cage-free environments that is sufficient to supply those original breakfast restaurants. However, since 2016, the total egg volumes for the Wendy’s system have increased substantially because we launched breakfast across the U.S. restaurant system in 2020. Approximately 5,800 U.S. restaurants now serve breakfast.
Since launching breakfast nationally, we have been working closely with the egg industry to source more eggs from a host of suppliers who are third-party certified, earning various certifications including American Humane Certified®, Certified Humane Raised and Handled® and United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified. Further, all our egg suppliers are required to have independent, third-party audits conducted annually by PAACO-certified auditors. Before a supplier can be approved for the Wendy’s system, they must undergo and pass a Wendy’s Animal Welfare audit as well as a third-party audit.
Alongside the egg industry, our suppliers and our Animal Welfare Council, we are exploring the latest research, best practices and systems for housing egg-laying hens today. As part of this process, we have evaluated the risks and opportunities that exist in various egg-laying housing systems, including conventional, cage-free and other systems, like enriched colony. As we make decisions about how best to source eggs for the Wendy’s system, we are seeking housing systems that provide the best conditions for animal welfare, worker safety, food safety, egg quality and the environment. We also consider the availability of a high quality, reliable egg supply and price volatility as we do with all of our ingredient sourcing.
We are also closely connected to our consumers’ expectations about eggs and know that using only Grade A, fresh-cracked eggs is one of the most important and compelling attributes for consumers. Looking ahead, we expect our sourcing of eggs from cage-free systems to steadily increase over time. Currently, we source predominantly from conventional housing systems, with cage free eggs representing approximately 6% of our total U.S. egg supply, although that could change as regulations and expert guidance continue to evolve. We are also interested in purchasing eggs from other animal welfare-enhanced systems. We believe our egg sourcing strategy and continued focus on animal welfare and other relevant factors reflects continued learnings and developments and appropriately balances both the risks and opportunities of a high quality, fresh egg supply. We will continue to provide updates on our progress and continued learnings.