ST. LOUIS — “Craveable food” and “ally for wellness” are two of the four key pillars making up Panera Bread Co.’s responsibility strategy, the company said in its 2014 Responsibility Report. The report, the company’s first, was issued Dec. 22 and covers a range of ways in which the fast-casual restaurant chain has altered its strategy to serving food.
|Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and c.e.o. of Panera|
“I believe we have a responsibility and an opportunity to be part of the solution,” said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive officer. “While Panera alone cannot solve all the diet-related problems in our country, I’m confident we can have a positive impact on our supply chain and the 78 million customers who visit our bakery cafes each week.”
Mr. Shaich said it is important to understand the entire food system, from how food is raised and grown, to how it is produced and manufactured, to how it is prepared. He said Panera has been challenging the idea that food has to be heavily processed or contain artificial additives in order to taste good.
“For example, 10 years ago we started serving chicken raised without antibiotics, which set a new standard within our industry and is becoming a near-industry norm,” he explained. “Today, we provide a wide assortment of proteins raised without antibiotics, including ham, breakfast sausage, bacon and roasted turkey. In 2006, we led our industry in removing artificial trans fats from our food. Five years ago, we were the first national restaurant company to voluntarily feature calories on our menu panels in the interest of empowering our guests with transparency.
“In 2014, we went one step further by introducing our Food Policy, which outlines our commitments and approach to clean ingredients, transparency and having a positive impact on the food system. Alongside the Food Policy, we also announced our plan to remove all artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and preservatives from our food menu by the end of 2016.
“Fulfilling this commitment is not an easy task. We have analyzed more than 450 ingredients on our food menu and reformulated many items to ensure that they will be void of all artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives by our commitment date. This continues to be a work in progress. But the end result is and will be worth it, both in terms of taste and quality. And we will be able to serve the kind of food we want to serve to our own families and use our scale to challenge our industry to do the same. We consider this all part of our responsibility journey.”
Digging deeper into Panera’s responsibility strategy, the company identified four pillars: craveable food, ally for wellness, everyday oasis, and relationships and warmth. The first two pillars specifically deal with the company’s approach to food.
Within the craveable food pillar, Panera said it is focused on “respect for food and the craft of food,” “nutritional quality that can be seen and appreciated,” and “food quality and safety.”
Panera said it is committed to continuing to create new offerings that honor its tradition of artisan bread and wholesome foods, continuing to innovate and introduce more menu options that are deemed better-for-you featuring nutrient-dense ingredients, establishing advisers who can provide insights and perspective on the bakery cafe’s menu offerings, and ensuring major vendors have been certified by the Global Food Safety Initiative.
In the ally for wellness pillar, Panera said it is focused on “clean food,” “choice and transparency,” and “positive impact on the food system.”
The company said it is committed to removing all artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives from its food menu items in all U.S. bakery cafes by the end of 2016, as well as to providing transparency and progress updates on its food policy. Additionally, Panera plans to adopt and implement new sustainable palm oil sourcing standards throughout its supply chain and transition to 100% cage-free eggs in U.S. Panera Bread and Saint Louis Bread Co. bakery-cafe food menus.For the full report, click here.