Kick Up Your Boots: Wendy’s Celebrates Cattle Ranchers at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention
by Liliana Esposito
Last week wasn’t a typical week in the office. Some colleagues and I jumped on a Southwest flight (LUV them) for the short hop from Columbus, Ohio to Music City USA. The reason: That’s where the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) hosted its annual convention and trade show. It was the second year that Wendy’s® was a sponsor of this celebration of all things cattle-related. We pulled our big red food truck up to the Convention Center entrance and served Dave’s Single™ hamburgers and Frosty® treats to thousands of cattlemen and women.
These hardworking folks dedicate their lives to raising the cattle that eventually become the fresh, never frozen, 100% pure beef hamburgers we serve in our restaurants.
It was an honor – and a lot of fun – to serve that beef right back to the people who brought it to us.
Connecting with farmers and ranchers to say “thanks for the beef” would probably be reason enough to show up in Nashville. But last year we found that NCBA was also a great way to extend our relationships in the beef industry because this supply chain is pretty complex. There are a lot of players who take great care in breeding, raising and feeding the cattle which are harvested and processed for steaks and hamburgers.
That is the very simplified version of the supply chain, but making that all happen in a way that’s safe for consumers, good for the animals, and replicable across the entire country is anything but.
Wendy’s, and every other restaurant and retailer of beef, is part of the last link in the supply chain. We bring the product to you, the consumer. And we buy it from companies that turn high quality cuts of beef into hamburger patties.
So technically, while the only direct relationship we have is with our suppliers (the processors and packers) we believe that we have a larger responsibility to reach as far back into the supply chain as possible so we understand where our beef is coming from.
Partnering with NCBA and their members is one of the ways we’ve found we can do that.
But why does it matter that we connect with farmers and ranchers?
Well, we know that consumers are really interested in their food. They want to know where it came from, how it was made and what it contains. And if it comes from an animal, a lot of people also want to know how that animal was raised, and want to feel good about that process.
But the cattle industry is huge. To give you a sense of the size consider the fact that we work with four patty processors that supply us out of six processing facilities. And the beef they process comes from more than 700,000 ranches across North America.
During our visit, we met with producers and professors and processors (oh my!) to exchange knowledge. In a Learning Lounge presentation we shared more about our supply chain and how we bring fresh beef to customers, we shared consumer research about their knowledge of the beef industry and finally, we gave them a sneak peak of our Super Bowl ad – the first time in Wendy’s 47-year history that we bought a spot during the big game.
We also talked with industry experts about hot-button issues like animal care; our commitment to reduce antibiotic use in our supply chain (we’re working hard on this and there is some very encouraging work going on throughout the industry); the environmental footprint of the industry and how we can work together to promote sustainability.
We’ll have more to share on these topics soon. As we’ve said before, we’re not always the flashiest headline grabbers, and we pride ourselves on being thoughtful and informed by science and data to make decisions.
Innovating is in our DNA. We are always moving forward and looking for ways to earn and keep our customers’ trust.
So watch this space – more to come soon.