Friday, November 6, 2015

Taco Bell Is Too Cheap To Be Ethical

The Washington Post has a story entitled "The Only Major Fast Food Company That Refuses to Fix How It Gets Its Food."  Unsurprisingly, it's about Yum!, parent company of Taco Bell.

Here are the most damning quotes:

"All of the brands belonging to Yum! Brands, the parent company which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, were given an F grade in a recent report by six organizations, including the Consumers Union and Center for Food Safety, on industry sourcing practices. What's more, it has made no clear promises to fix that.

At Taco Bell, where cheap food is still the overwhelming sales pitch, every penny matters. "Taco Bell is at such a low price point, even for fast food, that their value proposition makes it really hard to switch to any sourcing that will affect price," said Tristano. This is especially true for their breakfast menu, which was first introduced last year.

The simplest explanation, however, is that Taco Bell hasn't followed the industry because it doesn't have to. Its customers are young, like those of its competitors, but they are predominantly male, which, according to Technomic's 2015 food trend report, means they're less likely to care about animal welfare.  They also aren't quite as affluent as those who frequent other chain's, which, Tristano points out, likely means they are more price sensitive.

"The lower you get down the price points, the more your consumer has to prefer lower prices to better animal welfare rights," he said. "So I think it's also reflection of how Taco Bell's customers feel."

The silence of outliers like Yum! Brands only grows louder each time a competitor shares a new commitment to animal welfare. "Taco Bell is waiting for the prices to catch up," said Tristano. "But customers are also increasingly demanding more ethical sourcing. Young ones, in particular, who are Taco Bell's biggest audience—they see what is being promised elsewhere."

"It hasn't crystalized yet," he added. "But it's getting there.""

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