A+W tightens chicken supply requirements

Canada’s No. 2 burger chain, in the midst of a bid to carve out new market space for its beef and eggs, now plans to differentiate its chicken burgers and chicken strips in the same way.

A+W Food Services on Monday announced the latest step in its “Our Ingredients Guarantee” campaign, pledging it will “only serve chicken that’s raised without the use of antibiotics and fed a grain-based, vegetarian diet without animal byproducts.”

The company further emphasized “all of our chicken burgers and strips are made with seasoned, 100 per cent chicken breast, without fillers.”

As was the case in its beef and egg campaigns, A+W on its website Monday added a profile of a featured chicken producer, Phil Rempel of Heritage Farms at Abbotsford, B.C.

Vancouver-based A+W described Heritage Farms as a place where “old-fashioned values meet modern-day quality,” with chickens raised in “large barns, with room to roam and ample access to fresh air and clean water.”

The burger chain telegraphed its latest move last week when it released its parent income fund’s third-quarter financials, pledging its next ingredient change would come Monday and would be “a first in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.”

The company in September last year declared its burgers to be made with “beef that has been raised without any added steroids or hormones and contains no added preservatives or additives.” The change meant a move to source beef from suppliers not just in Canada but also in the U.S. and Australia.

A+W in September this year also revised its sourcing policy to require that its eggs come from hens fed a “vegetarian diet without animal byproducts,” featuring “grains and seeds such as flax, corn, wheat, barley and soy.” The egg policy also requires hens not be fed antibiotics once they begin egg production.

The company also pledged to ensure all its laying hens are moved from conventional cage-type housing to “enriched” housing by the end of 2016.

“Ever-growing calls”

The beef campaign angered some Canadian ranchers and their supporters over the chain’s move away from sourcing 100 per cent Canadian beef. It also sparked concern that the campaign could mislead consumers about the safety or quality of Canada’s beef supply.

Egg Farmers of Canada last month moved to defend the use of federally approved non-vegetarian feed ingredients such as meat and bone meal, feather meal, blood meal, animal fat and dried eggshells.

A balanced diet for hens “must take account of a wide variety of elements including, for example, not only protein levels in feed but also the composition of that protein, so that the hens are able to lay eggs while maintaining their health,” EFC said.

Chicken Farmers of Canada, which in June launched its own consumer awareness campaign dubbed “Raised by a Canadian Farmer,” hasn’t yet released any comment Monday about the A+W announcement.

“With ever-growing calls to know where and how food is produced, we need to let shoppers know just how proud our farmers are in helping to feed families in every corner of the country,” CFC president David Janzen said in June. — AGCanada.com Network



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