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Supply Chain Management and Responsible Sourcing

Wendy’s is a leader in the development and execution of quality processes and initiatives that are focused intensely on providing a safe and wholesome food supply – from our suppliers’ farms to the customer's table.


The quality, performance and innovation of our suppliers have a direct impact on Wendy’s success. 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 take a leadership role in influencing positive behaviors from our suppliers. Among the initiatives we have with our suppliers are Quality Assurance visits to their plants to ensure the highest product quality and integrity. Suppliers undergo regular audits by both trained Wendy's Quality Assurance representatives and third-party experts.


In addition, we work with multiple trade associations and partners to support industry-wide efforts to advance food quality and safety standards.


Wendy's Supply Chain - A Commitment to Quality

Since we opened the first Wendy’s in 1969, we have been proud to source most of our food from American farmers and ranchers. It’s a partnership built on mutual respect with an unwavering commitment to quality. This is important, because “Quality is our Recipe.®”


Farming and running restaurants are both hard work. Our restaurants are successful because of our managers and crew members as well as workers on the farm, in the field and everywhere in between. Our goal is to provide our customers with quality and wholesome food, good value and “A Cut Above” experience every visit. With the support of our suppliers, we work to deliver that every day.


Wendy's Animal Welfare Program

At Wendy’s, we take our role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously, which includes the humane treatment of animals.


Wendy’s does not own, raise, transport or process livestock. However, we believe it is our obligation to ensure that all of our suppliers exceed government regulations by meeting Wendy’s more exacting standards pertaining to the humane treatment of animals.


Click here to learn more about Wendy's Animal Welfare Program.


Wendy's Supplier Code of Conduct: Our Values in Action – A Public Pledge

Since our founding by Dave Thomas in 1969, we have always been committed to operating under a core set of values which begin and end with Quality. These values extend to the long-standing, collaborative relationships we have with our trusted suppliers. Our Supplier Code of Conduct embraces the best practices of our supply chain and outlines the specific expectations and requirements we have of this community. 


The Code is centered around 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. The Code goes above and beyond the requirements laid out in The Wendy’s Company and Quality Supply Chain Cooperative’s (QSCC) Codes of Business Conduct and Ethics.


When it was originally issued in 2016, the Code applied to U.S. suppliers of food, paper and packaging. In 2017, we expanded the Code to include all U.S. and Canadian contracts managed by QSCC, and to other suppliers that provide a significant stream of goods or services to The Wendy’s Company on an annual basis beyond those suppliers managed by QSCC.


At the end of 2020, the Wendy’s North America supply chain encompassed about 450 suppliers, which includes more than 300 food and packaging manufacturing and processing facilities and about 30 distribution centers, which are all covered by the Wendy’s Supplier Code of Conduct. Our largest volume of supplier facilities are in the areas of meat protein packing and processing (~100), produce (~80), dairy products (~50), packaging (~50), and bakery items (~30).


Affirmation by suppliers that they have received and understand the expectations under the Code is required annually, and certain provisions of the Code include additional assurances and requirements. For instance, all food suppliers are subject to regular food safety testing protocols and audits. Suppliers of fresh produce and fresh beef have heightened food safety requirements. And suppliers of meat products undergo first- and third-party animal welfare audits and reviews. These heightened standards were developed and informed based on risk-based assessments previously conducted.


We continue to work with third-party groups and experts on matters related to Corporate Social Responsibility. This input helps Wendy’s continue to evaluate and make informed decisions on possible changes, expansions or updates to the Code, as appropriate.


In 2017, we expanded the Code to include additional assurances and requirements related to human rights and labor practices. The decision to expand the Code was due in part to the nature of agricultural work, its workforce, and an evaluation of various risk factors.


Consequently, the Code now requires third-party reviews related to the human rights and labor practices for suppliers of hand-harvested, whole, fresh produce such as tomatoes, lettuce and berries.


Wendy’s requirements for human rights and labor practice assurances require certain fresh produce suppliers to undergo a third-party assessment. Unlike areas such as food safety and animal welfare in which there are industry-wide or global standard assessments and auditing certifications, there does not today exist a singular human rights and labor practices assessment that is broadly used or accepted by all sectors and geographies of agricultural work.


In creating this section of the Code, Wendy’s has consulted with experts and evaluated numerous human rights and labor practices frameworks and authorities most prevalent in the U.S. The Code’s expectations for Suppliers related to appropriate human rights and labor practices include:

Read More >


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 all our Suppliers. During these visits our Wendy’s Quality Assurance auditors observe operations conditions of our Suppliers.  These audits include some observational questions related to worker welfare, safety and health.


Click the icon below to access Wendy’s Supplier Code of Conduct.




Adapting to Supply Chain Challenges Amidst a Global Pandemic

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.


We recognized the essential work done by truck drivers who work tirelessly to ensure our restaurants are well stocked with fresh food and other necessities. In the wake of dining room closures, to support drivers whose large vehicles can’t fit in our drive-through lanes, we introduced temporary procedures to ensure they could enjoy a high-quality, affordable meal while on the road delivering essential goods to hospitals, restaurants and retailers.


We also communicated our expectations to distribution partners and others who regularly access our restaurants to perform evaluations, maintenance and other necessary services and established a protocol for sharing information as needed to support safety concerns in our restaurants.


Supply chain disruptions, particularly in meat processing facilities, were widely reported following the onset of the pandemic and did have a short-term impact on Wendy’s ability to consistently supply our signature fresh, never frozen beef to our restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.


We do not own or operate any supply chain or manufacturing operations at Wendy’s. We rely on our suppliers to be great partners with us to deliver the high-quality food our customers expect. Thanks to years of work building strong supplier relationships, we were able to successfully pivot many of our interactions with suppliers to virtual formats in the short term. For example, despite the pandemic, we have been able to continue to conduct facility evaluations remotely and collaborate with suppliers on new products using virtual tools and data sharing between suppliers and our Culinary and Quality Assurance teams. Other supply chain impacts involved newly-needed items like face masks, gloves and social distancing signage where we had to quickly develop or expand supply sources to support our system.


Some of these changes have been or will be temporary. With optimism for a 2021 that will see COVID-19 coming under control as a public health crisis, we anticipate certain items and processes will not need to endure permanently, such as requirements for face coverings and social distancing, and restrictions on travel and group gatherings. In other areas, however, we anticipate that we may continue to leverage some of the changes to our supply chain and operations driven by COVID-19 that have enabled new-found ways for us to engage. For example, we are currently piloting a project using Google glasses technology that may allow us to reduce some on-site travel while still observing certain of our suppliers from a quality, food safety and brand standard perspective. Additionally, many protein facilities that handle live animals utilize continuous video monitoring, which could be accessed to observe animal welfare and other required standards in a virtual way in the future. We also expect that there may be changes in certain federal, state, and local or provincial requirements or regulations related to workplace safety conditions based on learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic. As with any area in which regulation evolves, the standards and practices that we expect from our suppliers will also evolve to reflect any heightened requirements placed on suppliers by relevant regulatory authorities.



Wendy's Statement on Responsibly Sourcing Palm Oil

Our Commitment

Wendy’s remains committed to sourcing palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources. We strive to be a responsible steward and promote sustainable practices in our business and our supply chain. We are a minor user of palm oil, but we recognize the interest in this issue and want to share our updated approach to palm oil sourcing.


Our Progress

  • Joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
  • Joined GreenPalm to participate in the “Book & Claim” program in 2015.
  • Completed the Company’s first inventory of all palm oil used in North American* restaurants, which represent 95% of all Wendy’s restaurants in 2016.
  • Purchased GreenPalm Book & Claim certificates to cover entire North American supply chain use of palm oil in 2015 and 2016.
  • Completed the Company’s first inventory of supply chain data for international markets to identify status of palm oil used for cooking in 2016.
  • Submitted the 2015 and 2016 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Annual Communications of Progress and the 2015 World Wildlife Fund Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard which summarizes our use of palm oil and announces our commitment to having a plan in place by 2017 to achieve 100% certified sustainable palm oil in North American products by 2022.
  • In 2017, achieved sourcing of 100% Mass Balance Certified Sustainable Palm Oil when used for cooking at Wendy’s restaurants in New Zealand, Latin America and Caribbean.


Our Global Supply Chain

Nearly 95% of all Wendy’s restaurants are located in North America, where we do not use palm oil as a cooking oil. We have a few non-core menu items that contain palm oil as an ingredient such as the breading on our Premium Cod filet, breakfast biscuits and cookies.


In North America, palm oil represents less than one percent of all vegetable oils used.

Internationally, where about 5% of Wendy’s restaurants are located, more than 200 restaurants across 13 different countries currently use palm oil for cooking. Understanding the consumer interest in this issue as well as the effects conventional sourcing can have on the environment, we are working with internal teams and our individual franchisees to educate and develop a plan that supports the procurement of sustainable palm oil and considers the complex nature of our international supply chain operations. This is something we are making continual progress on and we look forward to sharing a comprehensive plan in the future.


Supporting Sustainable Palm Oil Production

In August 2015 we became members of RSPO. This international organization is recognized as the lead certifying body for Sustainable Palm Oil.


We also joined GreenPalm in 2015 to participate in their “Book and Claim” system and to make an immediate impact toward supporting the production of sustainable palm oil.  We purchased GreenPalm certificates for all of our North American supply chain where palm oil is used as an ingredient. 

  • GreenPalm is the exclusive operator of the RSPO’s Book and Claim supply chain option, which supports RSPO certified growers and producers and allows us to immediately support the production of sustainable palm oil. (More information is available here.)


Where We’re Headed

Wendy’s established an internal team and process for working with our suppliers to continually inventory the palm oil in our North American supply chain and gather reliable, consistent data about its sustainability status.


We have communicated our commitment to responsibly source palm oil to our suppliers.  Moving forward we are requesting regular updates from them on their progress in sourcing sustainable palm oil for the products we purchase from them.


By 2017, Wendy’s is working to have a plan in place to achieve a goal that 100% of the palm oil sourced for use in our North American supply chain supports the production of sustainable palm oil by 2022.  


Our goal is to have this ingredient be RSPO-certified sustainable, but where that cannot be immediately achieved, we would continue to purchase GreenPalm certificates under the RSPO’s Book and Claim supply chain option.


*North America is defined as United States and Canada