Wendy’s was built on fresh—a hallmark of food quality and the inspiration behind our founding motto, “Quality is our Recipe.” When customers enjoy fresh food in our restaurants, it’s because freshness is also built into the things they don’t see, like our industry-leading processes and programs focused on providing a safe and wholesome food supply from our suppliers’ farms to our customers’ tables. We're always looking for ways to continuously improve and build greater traceability into our supply chains—a key element of our animal welfare program and responsible sourcing goal.
Our ability to succeed is directly impacted by the quality, performance and innovation of our suppliers. To maintain strong supplier relationships, Wendy’s and its franchisees are members of Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc. SM. This independent cooperative works with leading suppliers to provide Wendy’s restaurants with products and services that offer quality, consistency and value.
We have always operated under a core set of values that begin and end with quality. These values extend to the long-standing, collaborative relationships we have with our trusted suppliers, and form the basis of the Wendy’s Code of Conduct.
The code focuses on five areas that are important to our brand, our customers and our supply chain, including:
- Food safety and food ingredients;
- Farm animal health and well-being;
- Human rights and labor practices;
- Environmentally sustainable business practices;
- and business ethics and integrity.
In addition to the assurances and third-party assessments required by the code, we also conduct our own regular Quality Assurance audits of the farms, plants, facilities and other operations locations of our suppliers.
We take pride in testing and learning with industry organizations and progressive supplier partners and knowing when to bring in experts who can help us raise the bar even higher.
Did you know that blockchain tracks more than location? Blockchain is an innovative, emerging technology that’s gaining traction across industries, but it has yet to be widely adopted. It creates reliable, unalterable records across the supply chain, helping substantiate the responsible sourcing we demand. Wendy’s is working with industry partners to test the use of blockchain technology to track and trace some of our Applewood Smoked Bacon through every step of the supply chain—a pork industry first. The coding in our cases of bacon links directly back through every step of the Wendy’s supply chain to provide visibility and validation of progress on animal welfare and care, including antibiotic use, the phase-out of gestation stalls and other key factors.
Wendy’s is currently testing radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging technology to potentially improve the traceability and efficiency in the way we handle supplies. These passive electronic tags affixed to cartons (of produce, meat, cutlery and other products) contain information about contents and expiration dates, and handheld scanners make it easy to view that data. While the program is still in the pilot stage, early results suggest this technology could reduce receiving time by 90% and cut inventory counting time in half, while also reducing food waste. Time is valuable and these savings could allow Wendy’s team members to focus even more on our customers.
Internal Wendy’s auditors visit supplier facilities to see for themselves how things are done and then bring this knowledge back to Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center. Our audits are rigorous, and we have removed suppliers from our supply chain due to failure to comply if our high standards aren't met. While we believe internal auditing is crucial, we also enlist independent, third-party auditors to validate what we do along with our suppliers so that extra layer is built in. Through this process, our customers can feel assured that Wendy’s delivers the safest food possible and that our suppliers uphold our commitments to food safety and food quality.
In addition to reinforcing all the necessary training and cleaning procedures for great restaurant operations, we expanded our relationship with global hygiene and safety expert Ecolab® in 2020. They have long provided the essential cleaning materials and systems for our restaurants: Now their EcoSure® division is helping us raise the bar even further when it comes to operational excellence at the restaurant level through their sophisticated public health technology and best-in-class safety benchmarking.
Wendy’s is a long-time leader in the development and execution of quality processes and initiatives that are focused intensely on providing a safe and wholesome food supply, and we are always looking for ways to strengthen our processes further. Over the past five years, Wendy’s has invested in a new innovative digital system, called WeSafe, to help streamline the supply chain data tracking process needed for our quality assurance program. This system integrates all the unique data streams that measure the status of key menu items as they make their way through supply chains to our restaurants. For example, when tracking Wendy’s fresh, never-frozen beef sourced from North America (available in the contiguous U.S., Alaska and Canada), WeSafe tracks and analyzes production, product sampling, cold chain temperature data and more. The data WeSafe tracks is available to us and our suppliers in real-time. This level of transparency and quick collaboration further demonstrate our commitment to delivering the high-quality, safe food our customers expect.
Since 2001, Wendy’s has had an Animal Welfare Council in place to shape our policies and help drive us forward. We have recently enhanced the council to bring in expertise in auditing, animal science, wellbeing and behavior, with specialties across our key protein categories. We also consult with public interest groups to ensure we benefit from a range of perspectives and push to continuously meet customer expectations.
In 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic had an acute impact on Wendy’s restaurant operations, supply chain and distribution practices. Just as we changed our approach to delivering outstanding restaurant experiences in the new environment by shifting to a predominantly drive-thru operating model with an increased focus on delivery and digital channels, we also quickly evolved our supply chain engagement.
"Traceability underscores our commitment to quality and we're actively exploring new avenues from farm to restaurant to get as far back in our supply chain as possible."
- Jorge Hernandez
Vice President, Quality Assurance