"Smaller is better" may not be a saying you hear much, but when it comes to chickens and their meat, Wendy's believes that is the case. The chain announced Tuesday that it is using "20 percent smaller birds" for its chicken meat, which it says will enhance texture of the meat and overall flavor, according to a news release. The brand believes this one change "will significantly and immediately improve the tenderness and juiciness of chicken for Wendy's U.S.-based customers.
And the fight for more pleasant and pliable poultry continues at the chain, which said it has perfected its cooking procedures system-wide, as well, for chicken, to allow the chain to launch a better-tasting grilled chicken sandwich very soon. In fact, Wendy's is investing nearly $30 million across its U.S. chain to move to the downsized birds.
What precisely is the chain doing to enhance its chicken offerings? Here's what a company press release lists as the major actions behind this change:
• Chicken is thawed before cooking to create what it says is more flavor and a better "sear."
• All artificial flavors, preservatives and colors are removed from meat.
• As previously announced, it's eliminating antibiotics important to human health from chickens used for meat.
Additionally, the chain has taken steps to ensure the welfare of the chickens while they are being raised for their meat, including creating an animal welfare council 16 years ago which has worked to strengthen standards in poultry production industry-wide. The news release said the chain also employs in-house animal welfare experts who audit chicken-raising practices from birth to slaughter to ensure feed quality, clean water provision, room for growth, safe handling and veterinary oversight of suppliers' operations.
Those same auditors are working with the chain's chicken suppliers to keep the birds they provide Wendy's within the new, smaller size specifications. The news release said the chain hopes to serve the meat of the first smaller chickens after completion of their growth throughout the second quarter of this year. Likewise, in Canada, the chain already uses smaller birds, according to the news release, with high customer satisfaction results.