Wendy’s Releases Annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report

Last week Wendy’s released an annual update on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives it undertook in 2016 and announced additional CSR plans for 2017. You may have seen Wendy’s name in the news recently for its saucy responses to disgruntled – or simply cheeky – customers on Twitter. We’ve entered the era of the Twitter quip, after all, but that’s neither here nor there.

We at Spend Matters have always been strong supporters of sustainability and social responsibility initiatives, so let’s take a look at what strides the fast-food company of “fresh, never frozen beef” fame made last year.

Goodbye to (Some) Antibiotics

Currently, half of Wendy’s chicken supply is raised without medically important antibiotics, and the company plans to transition to 100% by the end of 2017, as well as announcing similar commitments for pork and beef. In animals raised for food, antibiotics are generally used to prevent disease outbreak, which is a major risk when the animals are crammed together so tightly in small cages. The antibiotics are then passed on to us when we eat chicken nuggets, contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Hmm. Worrisome.

Therefore, Wendy’s moves to phase out antibiotics from its chicken supply is a laudable step, if not particularly cutting-edge. With its peers, including McDonald’s, setting and reaching similar goals regarding antibiotics in their food supply chains, Wendy’s would be left behind if it did not do the same. Spend Matters has reported on this trend before. In a survey of consumers, 74% said they would “pay a higher price for antibiotic-free food and beverages. Similarly, 76% of consumers would pay more for preservative-free food and beverages and 75% said they would pay more for hormone-free products.”

Wendy’s also announced that it will come out with a plan by the end of this year for sourcing certified sustainable palm oil, continue moving towards cage-free egg purchasing and expand its Supplier Code of Conduct.

A Smaller Energy Bill

Beyond food and antibiotics, there are other commendable plans in the press release. Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas started the Wendy’s High School Heisman award in 1994 to recognize high school seniors in the U.S. who excel in academics, athletics and community work. In 2017, the program is expanding to provide more than $120,000 in student college scholarships.

Another initiative worth mentioning is Wendy’s plans of building 1,000 restaurants by 2020 with improved energy efficiency. A year ago, the company joined the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings challenge, aiming to reduce energy use by 20% by 2025. Though, as anyone who has watched commercials for energy-efficient light bulbs might know, cutting down on your energy bill is as big an incentive as helping the environment (perhaps Wendy’s can also phase out plastic straws?).

But perhaps Wendy’s smaller energy bill will help make up for the costs of sourcing cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free chicken. Both make for more bragging rights for the company Twitter account.

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