August 21 2015 – Meghan Ferrin
If you’re a fan of fast food, your number one complaint might be that you’re often not consuming fresh food or fresh ingredients. What fast food provides consumers in convenience, it often lacks in healthy choices. But lately, fast food chains are taking big steps to ensure that they’re providing quality and fresh food to their customers.
National fast food chain Wendy’s, spent three years searching the country to find a number of blackberry suppliers in order to roll out a fresh new salad to customers next year. Wendy’s is taking a clue from consumers who recently ranked a demand for fresher ingredients, more produce in fast food choices, and less sugar, fat, and salt as priorities for their diet. Wanting healthier, fresher choices has been a main reason that consumers are slowly shifting way from typical fast-food restaurants (like mega-chain, McDonald’s) and making their way to fast-casual dining experiences such as Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Perhaps realizing the danger to their brands, these fast-food restaurants have begun to include salads made with fresh ingredients, limiting the processed foods they offer, and offering fresh fruits and vegetables as an upgrade to many meals. Popular restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has included vegetables and produce that it says are made with fresh ingredients and come from local sources. However, many fast casual restaurants aren’t quite so willing to give into the competition. Chipotle recently launched a marketing campaign that highlights the differences between its ingredients and the preservative and sodium-laden ingredients that some competitors continue to use.
One roadblock that fast food restaurants will need to overcome is choosing items that are healthy while retaining quality and integrity during shipping. Wendy’s abandoned the idea of introducing raspberries to their salad options because of the loss of integrity (it would have become mushy) the fruit would have experienced during shipping. Many chefs in local, smaller restaurants don’t have to worry about shipping or supply problems, as they are buying in smaller doses, but for national chains it’s a big concern. For example, the strawberries that Wendy’s uses must last for the seven days it takes to get them from farm to consumer’s mouths. To combat this issue, Wendy’s only prepares the base of their salads (including greens and fruit) in the mornings while adding the extras (chicken, cheese, and bacon) at the moment the consumer places the order.
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