Can Fast-Casuals Create A Beacon For Sustainability & Health Trends?

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8 min

Can Fast-Casuals Create A Beacon For Sustainability & Health Trends?

Over the past few months, fast casual chains large and small have begun to undergo “oil changes” from seed oils towards so-called healthier and sustainable options like Zero Acre Farms. The nutritional argument has been spearheaded by social media nutrition influencers like Paul Saladino, a proponent of the “carnivore diet,” and claims that canola, sunflower, grapeseed, and soybean oils contain polyunsaturated fats that break metabolism and are responsible for chronic illness like diabetes and obesity. As a growing set of consumers have expressed concern over such oils, major chains like Chipotle, Shake Shack, and Sweetgreen have taken note by pledging to switch to alternatives like extra virgin olive oil and Zero Acre’s “Cultured Oil” product. 

In March, Chipotle’s Cultivate Next innovation fund invested in the startup and in September, Shake Shack announced a two-store trial using the oil on its fries, veggie patties, and fried chicken items. Last month, 47-unit burger chain Hopdoddy announced that it was rolling out Zero Acre’s oil to 10 of its Austin, TX locations for “clean-fried” french fries, chicken tenders, and Nashville hot chicken sandwiches. Furthermore, the chain recently made headlines for removing plant-based meat items in favor of a national regenerative meat program at all nationwide locations. The chain has since doubled down on a marketing campaign that seeks to create a movement proclaiming “Save the Earth... One. Burger. At. A. Time” and "Just Eat, And You're A Conservationist." But what do all of these oil and protein initiatives really mean?

Hopdoddy's lineup of five new regenerative sandwiches (Source: Hopdoddy)

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