As the long-standing leader in the upscale casual dining segment, and as a company that is committed to environmentally and socially responsible practices, The Cheesecake Factory is pleased to share our Sustainable Sourcing Policy.
With our reputation for having the largest and most diverse menu in the industry, we knew we needed to develop a robust Sustainable Sourcing Policy that was uniquely ours. We started by identifying and prioritizing our most important ingredients and agricultural materials, which our restaurants rely on to make our dishes from scratch and collectively represent almost 90% of our ingredient purchases. The result of more than a year’s worth of work with numerous stakeholders and partners is the introduction of this Sustainable Sourcing Policy that addresses a number of important areas - from the welfare of the environment and the treatment of livestock to the conditions of the individuals working in and around farms. Our Sustainable Sourcing Policy clearly demonstrates our commitment to best practices within our supply chain and establishes our buying preference for ingredients that are 3rd party certified for sustainability, that are environmentally and socially responsible, that promote animal welfare, and that are traceable back to the source or farm, as feasible and appropriate. We will ensure all practices and guidelines are verified by internal auditing as well as third party auditors.
We realize that we have a very complex supply chain, which will require us to work closely with everyone who is part of it to meet the goals laid out in our Sustainable Sourcing Policy. We recognize that our policy will be an ongoing journey, one where we are continually learning about the opportunities and challenges to securing high quality and sustainable ingredients. With this in mind, we will continue to evaluate and address other important areas of our supply chain and update our guests and stakeholders on our existing commitments and new efforts.
Our Sustainable Sourcing Policy is organized around the three key areas of social, environmental, and animal welfare. Within each area we have identified the goals we plan to accomplish by 2025 (unless an earlier date is otherwise noted) as well as the expectations, standards and guidelines we strive to implement beyond our own operations and towards all actors in our upstream supply chain. We invite you to explore our specific goals for each of these areas below.
The Cheesecake Factory operates with a fundamental respect for the rights of the staff members we employ, and the people who grow and produce the products we source. We are working to assimilate a number of leading and well-recognized national and international labor standards into our policy to help ensure just and equitable labor practices throughout our business. Together with our suppliers, non-governmental organizations, and external stakeholders we are working to address concerns regarding child labor, fair compensation and hours worked, safe working conditions, fair treatment, and transparent records in our entire supply chain. The root causes for many of these issues are multi-faceted and complex requiring multiple levels of engagement from not just business but also local and national governments.
We remain committed to ensuring our responsible business values and standards are implemented throughout our supply chain and will continue to work with key stakeholders to achieve this. Further we believe that many of these challenges are also interlinked, as developing a just and prosperous future, and addressing poverty and social justice, is much less likely to happen in a weakened or destroyed environment. Therefore, our policy as a whole will work to identify and design solutions that match the size of the challenge of actually shifting to sustainable and socially just sourcing.
Once finalized, The Cheesecake Factory will require all suppliers and their direct and indirect operations to adopt the standards and promote the principles outlined in our forthcoming Code of Conduct. Suppliers will recertify and report on their implementation of these standards on an annual basis. Suppliers who do not adopt such practices will be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine if their practices are consistent with our commitments.
We understand the fundamental importance of ensuring our social goals and standards are embedded within the overall Sustainable Sourcing Policy. The forthcoming Code of Conduct and social goals will be finalized by June 2017.
When it comes to our dishes, we want not only the highest quality and tastiest ingredients, but also those that are sustainably managed and produced. Globally, water is increasingly scarce, wildlife habitat and biodiversity are declining, and natural resources such as stocks of wild fish and pollinators are coming under increased pressure, all while climate change is further exacerbating these challenges. We believe our shared natural living systems are vital for us to help protect and better manage, as they help keep the air breathable, water drinkable, and allow us to provide delicious, quality food.
Not only do we recognize the changes that are taking place and the risks to both the natural environment and business, but we are seeking to be part of the solution. While we cannot do everything all at once, we are seeking to focus on the highest priority issues and are partnering with our suppliers to ensure sustainable natural resources are used to grow and produce our ingredients, as well as implementing strategies to protect and enhance local biodiversity and habitat.
Partnering with our suppliers we are:
- Achieving a 15% reduction in the amount of water, synthetic pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers our suppliers use to grow our produce.
- Eliminating pesticides classified as type 1a or 1b by the World Health Organization or pesticides that are banned according to national, regional, or local laws.
- Ensuring suppliers are submitting and implementing annual integrated pest management plans for produce ingredients.
- Working to reduce pesticides classified as Type II and III by the World Health Organization for the ingredients we purchase.
- Creating biodiversity action plans which detail suppliers planned efforts to conserve natural habitat, protect wildlife, and promote biodiversity adjacent to production areas.
- Creating and implementing a pollinator and beneficial insect conservation plan as a part of the larger biodiversity action plan.
- Working towards zero deforestation particularly from the sourcing of our produce, cocoa, coffee, and tea.
- Sourcing sustainably certified palm oil (CSPO) by 2020, and establishing a buying preference for fully traceable palm oil that does not come from deforestation or clearing of high carbon stocks.
- Working to source certain imperfect or misshapen produce ingredients which have traditionally gone to waste as unusable and/or unsellable.
- Working towards sourcing environmentally and socially responsible seafood as defined by industry programs (such as Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch).
We fundamentally understand that animal welfare is not a singular issue for a single species, but rather, a set of holistic and comprehensive principles for all animals throughout their lifecycles. The foundation of our animal welfare goals are based on the belief that every animal has intrinsic rights and should have basic freedoms during their entire life cycle, including:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from living in discomfort
- Freedom from pain
- Freedom to express normal species behavior
- Freedom from fear and distress
In order to ensure these basic freedoms are being provided, we are partnering with our suppliers to implement specific standards and goals in such areas as space and density, use of antibiotics, hormones and feed additives, physical alterations, bedding and housing, social behaviors, environmental conditions, transport and harvest, and transparency in treatment. Our animal welfare goals will ensure that our entire supply chain is produced under the highest quality, humane, and ethical considerations.
Partnering with our suppliers we are:
- Ensuring our poultry, pork, beef, dairy, and eggs come from suppliers who are committed to the “five freedoms” of animal welfare and who will partner with us to ensure zero tolerance for animal abuse or neglect (including animals not directly sourced).
- Sourcing antibiotic-free poultry, pork, eggs, and beef. We will not support a supplier withholding appropriate veterinary care from a sick or injured animal, but once treated with antibiotics, these animals may not enter our supply chain.
- Phasing out physical alterations as a preventive measure and prohibiting tail docking as a practice altogether. When physical alterations are undertaken, pain management must be administered and best practices implemented. Physical alterations include but are not limited to:
- POULTRY: beak trimming, dubbing, caponization, de-spurring, and de-toeing
- PORK: castration, teeth clipping, and ear notching
- BEEF: dehorning, disbudding, ear notching, and castration
- EGGS: beak trimming, dubbing, de-spurring, and de-toeing
- DAIRY: dehorning, disbudding, and ear notching
- Ensuring our poultry, pork, beef, dairy, and eggs suppliers utilize a wholesome, quality, and holistic feed with no animal by-products.
- Ensuring that during transport animals are handled by trained staff using low stress handling techniques and that there is adequate space and thermal comfort for animals. Any sick, or injured animals, or animals that may have difficulty withstanding transport may not be transported, without veterinary treatment.
- Ensuring humane practices, such as controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) or controlled atmosphere killing (CAK), are utilized prior to harvest, and support tools such as live video monitoring to ensure humane processing.
- Sourcing 100% cage-free eggs for restaurant operations by 2020, and for bakery operations by 2025.
- Offering environmental enrichments (such as perches, litter, and pecking objects) for egg laying hens.
- Sourcing dairy and dairy products free from rBST/rBGH.
- Ensuring dairy cattle have adequate space to move freely and eliminating the practice of tethering of cattle (except during milking or veterinary care).
- Sourcing beef free from added growth hormones and growth promoters.
- Eliminating the use of confinement crates for veal by 2017.
- Eliminating pork gestation crates from our supply chain by 2020.
- Ensuring all pigs are housed in a group pen setting from birth as appropriate and are provided environmental enrichments.
- Sourcing pork free from added growth hormones and growth promoters.
In alignment with Global Animal Partnership (GAP) current draft policy, with the respect to the treatment of broiler chickens, we are committed to:
- Purchasing poultry raised without the use of fast growing practices or breeds.
- Lowering the maximum stocking density for broiler chickens, equal to or less than 6 pounds per square foot within supplier’s operations.
- Offering environmental enrichments (such as perches, litter, and pecking objects) for poultry.
- Expanding humane slaughter practices to include the elimination of live shackling/live dumping.
- Working towards reducing antibiotic usage per Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guidelines for seafood purchases.