Leader in big-food change

Panera Bread is a leader in removing harmful chemicals in our food.

Panera has over 1,900 ‘fast-casual’ restaurants featuring a wide menu of items.  They sold over 250million bagels in the USA last year.

Panera has been the food industry leader in:

  • 2005 Panera got antibiotics out of their chicken servings
  • 2006 Panera stopped using trans fats
  • 2010 Panera started posting calorie content of its menu
  • 2014 Panera introduced its ‘No No List’ of over 150 chemicals no longer in its food (or being phased out)

On all of these points, Panera led various legislative bodies by years in passing laws which in turn changed the entire big-food and big-Ag industry.

I will start patronizing Panera whenever and wherever I can. They are proof that the marketplace is indeed the most powerful force we have in changing the world for good – not the government or laws. In a consumerism society, the consumer wields more power than they think – unfortunately few consumers do. But enlightened and smart business owners can appeal to consumers’ latent needs and wants and leverage success.

The NYTimes article (july 5, 2015) featuring Panera,  started with Mr. Kish – Panera head chef – on how he grew up on a farm with his grandmother’s cooking: two important influencing factors within Mike Pollan’s repeated advice: no more than 5 ingredients and eat what your grandmother would recognize.


The NYT article also includes CEO Mr. Shaich’s passion for providing ‘real foods’ in his restuarants, and walking his talk by hiring Mr. Kish (a Michelin chef who returned to the farm) and allowing him to implement his farm + grandmother’s version of real food. His quote “The marketplace may be the most powerful way to effect change” rings true. Unfortunately most other corporations do not use this power for the good. Panera does.

The story I really like within this story is Panera’s relationship with PepsiCo. A kind of David vs. Goliath battle. Panera has $3b vs. Pepsi’s $140b in annual sales. Yet, Panera is insisting PepsiCo get the corn syrup out of it’s restuarants soda fountain, or risk losing its business. Given Panera’s track record of influencing first the marketplace + consumers AND then regulatory agencies + laws, I think PepsiCo is working on it. But Panera won’t just settle for PepsiCo replacing corn syrup with Sorbital or other aspartame substitues – it will insist on any ‘real’ food additives (there’s an oxymoron for you! … aka natural flavoring) being totally gone in its soda fountains.

So, rock on Panera. I urge you to start frequenting Panera and show your support for the great work that they are doing.

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