Wendy’s is increasing its supply of tomatoes grown in greenhouses and hydroponic farms.
The US burger chain says the move will allow it to source fresher tomatoes than possible from traditional farms.
Dennis Hecker, senior vice president of quality assurance for Wendy's, said taste was the main factor behind the change, but added sourcing from hydroponics had other supply chain benefits.
Field grown tomatoes are usually picked before they are ripe, keeping them fresh for longer and making them less likely to be damaged during transportation, but also making them unlikely to ripen by the time they reach the consumer.
The hydroponic grown tomatoes – which are not grown in soil but in nutrient-enriched water – will be ripened on the vine.
Hecker said: “Taste and quality are the top factors and we are excited about the superior flavors we can achieve with this change.
“Additionally, greenhouse farms provide supply predictability and quality assurance benefits including continuity of supply, protection of crops from harsh weather, safe, indoor growing conditions and a significant reduction of chemical pesticides used on the plants.”
The firm said the change will also help support local economies by creating sustainable, year-round jobs.
It will source these tomatoes from around a dozen suppliers including from the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Southeast and Great Lakes regions in the US and from and Canada and Mexico. The firm has started introducing them to its restaurants, and will continue rolling them out into early 2019.
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