Panera Bread Co has committed to removing more that 150 artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives and flavors from its menu before the end of 2016. This is the latest move by a large food company in response to a shift by consumers towards foods looked at as healthier and simpler.
The gourmet sandwich and salad chain with close to 1,900 restaurants scattered across Canada and the U.S., will eliminate ingredients like propylene glycol and fat substitutes. It has worked on these plans for 3 years and already has eliminated other ingredients such artificial sweetener sucralose and titanium dioxide, which makes mozzarella cheese whiter.
These changes by Panera, a company amongst the leaders in reacting to evolving health trends such as the increasing popularity for meat that is raised without using antibiotics, highlights how complex revamping the supply chains of a restaurant are while adapting to consumer tastes that are ever changing.
Consumers are aware that they should eat better, but are not always aware of how that can be done, said Panera CEO Ron Shaich.
Other food makers have recently made moves that are similar to Panera’s. This past February, Nestle said it was removing the artificial flavors and colors from certain candy bars as well as other chocolates in the United States.
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced last week it had removed most of the genetically modified ingredients from the restaurant’s supply chain amidst the concerns by consumers about the technology.
Panera’s announcement is not without risk, by spotlighting the artificial ingredients the restaurant chain still is relying one.
Eliminating the artificial ingredients while keeping taste and other qualities which draw consumers in is also tough to accomplish and does not mean the length of the list of ingredients will get smaller.
The reformulated Greek salad dressing at Panera will contain an ingredient list with 19 items compared to 18 when there were artificial ingredients present.