Why Wendy's Spent 3 Years Looking for Blackberries

It hopes to compete with fast-casual eateries' fresh ingredients
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2015 8:47 AM CDT
Why Wendy's Spent 3 Years Looking for Blackberries
This March 21, 2014, photo shows a Wendy's restaurant in Providence, RI.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Finding 2 million pounds of blackberries is no easy feat. "It's been a slow, painful journey for us," says the procurement boss at Wendy's. "We spent 14 months scavenging around the industry, looking at more suppliers than we ever have." The number actually topped 30, when the fast-food company usually reviews two to five growers. The procurement took another three years, but Wendy's says it will finally have enough berries to decorate a seasonal salad coming to 6,500 North American restaurants. Will the pursuit pay off? Probably, suggests a study of 1,000. Above limiting sugar, salt, or fat, consumers say adding more produce is the most important dietary change they're making, reports the Wall Street Journal.

That may partly explain the consumer shift from fast-food to fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle that prepare fresh food. Wendy's and others are hoping to compete. McDonald's is offering kale salads, Del Taco is promoting its use of fresh avocado, and Chick-fil-A is adding what it says is fresh, locally sourced produce, like red cabbage and carrots, to its chicken wrap. In Wendy's case, adding blackberries to the menu posed its "most difficult supply-chain challenge ever," reports the Journal. As most blackberries are sold to grocery stores, Wendy's had to enlist two growers to plant extra blackberry bushes to meet the company's demand; the bushes take three years to mature. The salad will hit stores next summer. (More Wendy's stories.)

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