The Canadian wing of U.S. burger chain Wendy’s is going strictly indoors, in southern Alberta, to supply all the lettuce for its salad, burger and chicken sandwich offerings across the country.
Whole Leaf, based outside Coaldale, about 20 km east of Lethbridge, was announced last week as the lettuce supplier for the chain’s 384 stores across Canada.
Wendy’s, in a July 14 release, billed itself as the first national brand in the Canadian quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry to serve greenhouse-grown lettuce in all its restaurants across the country.
Wendy’s said Whole Leaf’s greenhouse technology allows it to “capture and reduce its water consumption by over 90 per cent compared to field-grown lettuce.”
Whole Leaf, on its website, said its process uses one litre of water to grow one head of lettuce, “compared to 100-120 litres of water used for field-grown lettuce.”
The company said its facilities today produce over 20 million heads per year, year-round.
Wendy’s said Whole Leaf also has an on-site process to capture both waste heat and carbon dioxide, cutting emissions and “allowing it to be completely self-sufficient for electricity and heating.”
The move to Whole Leaf also allows Wendy’s to source lettuce grown in “Canadian-sourced” peat, and “with zero pesticides.”
With “supply predictability and consistency” also expected from the move, Lisa Deletroz, senior director for marketing with Wendy’s Canada, said the shift to Whole Leaf will also allow the chain to “further support Canadian producers and the Canadian economy.”
“With more Canadians looking for sustainable products, this strategic partnership allows us to reach Wendy’s customers all-year round with high-quality fresh produce alongside a brand that — like (Whole Leaf’s retail brand) Inspired Leaves — is committed to quality and sustainability,” Whole Leaf senior director of sales Rindi Bristol said in the same release.
The company in 2018 took a similar approach to tomato sourcing across its North American chain, pledging to transition to an “exclusively” greenhouse-grown, vine-ripened supply by early 2019.
Wendy’s said at the time its tomatoes would come mainly from greenhouse farms in both the U.S. and Canada, “from sources that match our North American restaurant footprint.”
Wendy’s also said at the time that its tomato sourcing decision “further strengthens our commitment to responsible sourcing practices by providing safe, indoor working conditions, shelter from the elements and environmental contaminants, reduced water and land use burdens, and a significantly reduced need for chemical pesticides.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network