Panera's Food Policy on Track: To Offer Additive-Free Food - Analyst Blog

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Panera Bread Company ( PNRA ) has recently provided details on its comprehensive Food Policy, introduced in June, regarding its shift to healthier food alternatives. The company's latest Food Policy details include the removal of additives from its ingredients.

In 2014, 91% of the company's pork supply was antibiotic free and sourced from farms where pregnant sows were able to roam freely and pigs were given a vegetarian-only diet. By Jan 2015, Panera aims that its entire pork supply will be sourced from such farms and be antibiotic free.

Also, 80% of the beef in 2014 was served by Panera was grass-fed and sourced from farms where cattle were able to graze freely. Further, the company noted that 18% of the eggs served by the company came from laying hens raised in cage-free setting, and conformed to the no-antibiotics and vegetarian-diet standards.

Further, the company served chicken - in sandwiches and salads - which were entirely antibiotic free and raised on vegetarian diet. Nearly all the roasted turkey, which accounts for almost a third of the turkey served on Panera's sandwiches and salads, was antibiotic free.

Panera's Food Policy is consistent with the growing awareness for healthy diet among consumers. The St. Louis-based company intends to do away with colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its menu by 2016-end. The company has also pledged to use ingredients that do not contain additives such as artificial transfats and monosodium glutamate (MSG). The company also intends to mention the ingredients and calories on menus to inform customers about the food they buy.

Health consciousness is increasing among the masses and Americans are gradually refraining from food with higher calories, fat and sugars but low on vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients. Therefore, food companies are increasingly changing their priorities to focus more on "good for you" products. For example, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.'s ( CMG ) "Food with Integrity" campaign promotes that its meat is raised without hormones and antibiotics and mostly local and organic produce is used.

In May, this year, McDonald's Corp. ( MCD ) listed its new sustainability goals for 2020 per the rules of Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef - an organization to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef. The fast-food giant outlined the global criteria for sustainable beef production and also announced plans to purchase verified sustainable beef by 2016. Additionally, McDonald's intends to align its business to make it more environment-friendly.

Panera currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the same sector is BJ's Restaurants, Inc. ( BJRI ), which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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