Burger chains beef up fresh produce offerings - The Packer

Burger chains beef up fresh produce offerings

05/03/2012 10:09:00 AM
Coral Beach

Courtesy Wendy's International Inc.Fresh sweet potatoes from U.S. growers are available for a limited time at Wendy's restaurants. The chain is also promoting its use of fresh produce in a new advertising campaign.From baked sweet potatoes to hand-made salads, the latest advertising campaign by Wendy’s International Inc. focuses on fresh produce, leaving the question “Where’s the beef” relegated to the burger wars of the past generation.

Launched in late April, the multimedia campaign features Wendy Thomas, daughter of founder Dave Thomas and namesake for the worldwide chain of more than 6,500 fast-food restaurants. In television commercials she tells viewers that the chain’s new menu items carry on the tradition of her father’s core values of fresh preparation and premium ingredients.

The TV spots promote that fresh produce is chopped and prepared by hand in individual restaurants, unlike other chains that use fresh-cut produce from foodservice suppliers. Denny Lynch, senior vice president of communications, said the Dublin, Ohio-based company has been buying whole tomatoes, onions and heads of lettuce for 42 years.

Courtesy Wendy's International Inc.Fresh, whole produce is delivered to Wendy's restaurants daily where it is chopped and prepared by hand, according to the company's new ad campaign.“We wash, chop and spin our iceberg and romaine lettuce in every restaurant,” Lynch said. “We core and slice tomatoes and slice red onions in every store. We make salads throughout the day.”

Lynch declined to identify the produce suppliers who help Wendy’s execute its fresh menu items. He also said the company does not publish the volumes of produce it buys.

“As you can imagine, with 6,300 restaurants in North America, it’s a bunch. For example, we contract for entire fields of lettuce, strawberries, potatoes, etc.,” Lynch said.

Among the latest menu additions at Wendy’s are sweet potatoes, touted in ads as U.S.-grown, hand-picked and baked to order. Nash Produce, Nashville, N.C., is one of the companies supplying the sweet potatoes, and marketing director Laura Kornegay said she believes they are a hit.

“From the movement of the product, as well as great feedback through word of mouth and social media, we would say that it seems to be going well,” Kornegay said. “This partnership with Wendy’s has been extremely welcomed by Nash Produce and has been a great addition that we hope becomes long-term.”

Other companies supplying Wendy’s sweet potatoes are: Ham Produce Co., Snow Hill, N.C.; Wayne E. Bailey, Chadbourn, N.C.; and N&W Farms, Vardaman, Miss.

Burger King goes fresh

Not to be left out of the fresh craze, Burger King Corp., Miami, recently launched what corporate officials say is the broadest expansion of food offerings in its 58-year history.

More than a dozen new menu items include three salads billed as “garden fresh.”

The burger chain analyzed customer expectations for a year before settling on the new menu items, said BK North America president Steve Wiborg in a news release.

The new salads on the BK menu are classic Caesar, BLT and apple-cranberry. All three can be topped with grilled or crispy fried chicken breast meat. The suggested retail price is $4.99.

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