The chain switched to serving 100% sow stall free pork in all of its taquerias nationally.
The switch to 100% sow stall free pork was reached one month ahead of the deadline the company had set for itself, Steven Marks, co-founder and managing director of Guzman y Gomez said, and will hopefully convince the fast food industry that caring for animal welfare and serving great meals need not be an either-or decision.
“Fast food can be good, ethical food. Traditional fast food companies have led us to believe that if you want convenience and speed, you have to compromise — but that’s just not true,” Marks said.
“Now, GYG is not only the first fast food brand in the country to move to unprocessed Australian free range chicken at scale, but it’s now switched to sow stall free pork as part of its mission to fix fast food, starting by improving animal welfare conditions,” he added.
Marks said that switching to unprocessed Australian free range chicken and 100% sow stall free pork has been one of the most important decisions for GYG, especially given the logistical considerations involved.
“When we started, we didn’t have the size or the volume to make the move towards free range produce. Deciding to go 100% free range wasn’t easy. It’s been a significant investment for us — over $1 million in fact,” he said.
“However, there was never a point where we second guessed our decision; we knew it was the right thing to do for our guests, the animals and for us. Businesses should be responsible for supplying quality, ethically sourced produce because it’s the right thing to do. The onus shouldn’t be on customers to choose ethically with their wallets,” Marks said.
Another major challenge GYG encountered in moving towards unprocessed Australian free range chicken and 100% sow stall free pork was finding and partnering with the right supplier. The chain spent a lot of time thinking about and choosing who to partner with, as well as working with chosen suppliers so they meet and uphold high animal welfare standards.
“We visited a number of different farms and talked to a variety of suppliers to ensure that they were genuinely free range, and we were 100% certain that they shared our vision and care for animal welfare,” Marks said.
“It involved doing some heavy research, visiting farms across Australia and having the conversation with the right people to get the ball rolling. We’ve nailed the speed game without lowering our standards and demonstrated that it’s possible to serve fast food without compromising on nutrition, quality or animal welfare,” Marks said.
GYG’s switch to sow stall free pork is part of a larger campaign it calls Fix Fast Food (www.fixfastfood.com.au), which began earlier by serving unprocessed free range chicken at scale. The company also looks to offer 100% grass fed beef by next year, as well as other improvements beyond raising animal welfare standards in the industry.
“This is just the beginning of our mission to Fix Fast Food. It’s still early days and there is still a long way to go as change doesn’t happen overnight,” Marks said.
Still, he added that change is already afoot in the Australian fast food industry with other brands and non-profits starting to show support to GYG’s movement.
“We’ve had some really promising feedback from other brands and notable players in the food industry who are keen to show their support, and we hope that many more will join. We’ve also been meeting with a number of animal welfare organisations who are also keen to find out more about the work we’re doing.”
“This isn’t something we plan to do on our own, we’re encouraging all fast food outlets to pick up their game and start producing nutritious, ethically sourced food, because we’ve proved it can be done,” he said.
“We believe that together, along with our partners, we’ll make ethically sourced produce an affordable reality,” says Marks. “Fixing the fast food industry is something that we’re really passionate about. It’s not easy pushing for change, but boy does it get you out of bed in the mornings!”
This article originally was posted to QSR Media, and written by a Marketing, Staff Writer.