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.
As a popular and expanding restaurant company, we plan that any future concepts or businesses acquired and operated by us after January 1st, 2018, will have our animal welfare policy and the requirements of our Sustainability Sourcing Policy and the Sustainability Code of Conduct apply to them under the original timeline of eight years from date of full acquisition and operation by us.
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. As part of our on-going sustainability and social justice efforts, we have adopted a number of leading and well-recognized national and international labor standards as reflected in our Sustainability Code of Conduct.
Our Sustainability Code of Conduct seeks to uphold our values and principles by establishing certain nonnegotiable standards, which seek to ensure that suppliers meet our expectations for doing business with us as they relate to legal requirements, ethical practices, human rights, and environmental standards. Our goal is to work with suppliers towards compliance with our Sustainability Code of Conduct, and with respect to any supplier who does not adopt such practices, review our relationship on a case by case basis to determine if practices are consistent with our commitments. While the full Sustainability Code of Conduct has significant detailed standards and expectations, at a high-level our Code requires that our suppliers:
- Comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and jurisdictions in which they operate.
Freely Chosen Employment
- Employ only voluntary workers who are above the age of 15, and do not require payment of fees or surrendering of identification as a condition of employment.
- Ensure that workers understand the terms of their employment.
Working Hours & Compensation
- Provide workers with wages, overtime pay, benefits, time off, and detailed wage statements that meet or exceed the legal minimum standards.
Safe Working Conditions
- Ensure workers are provided a safe, healthy, and clean working environment, and materials and training to prevent accidents and injury.
Fair & Equal Treatment
- Treat all workers with dignity and respect, including unbiased conflict resolution processes, non-discrimination policies, voluntary and safe housing(when provided), and access to necessary services.
- In addition to complying with all applicable environmental laws, continually improve environmental performance and ensure compliance with any social, animal welfare, or environmental requirements specific to our Sustainable Sourcing Policy.
Communication & Implementation
- Apply and communicate these standards within their own supply network and with subcontractors
- Report on implementation on an annual basis.
Reporting & Record Keeping
- Maintain accurate and transparent records to demonstrate compliance with this code, including being capable of tracking upstream supply chain origins and their compliance with this code.
We recognize that the root causes of many of our sustainability challenges are multi-faceted and complex, requiring multiple levels of engagement, not just from business but also from local and national governments, and require attention not only to environmental challenges but also to the development of a just and prosperous future for those involved in our supply chain. Therefore, our Sustainable Sourcing Policy, including our Sustainability Code of Conduct, are intended to work together to identify and design solutions that match the size of the challenge of shifting to sustainable and socially responsible sourcing.
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) 5‐Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards for Chickens Raised for Meat v2.0, 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 lighting, perches, litter, and pecking objects) for poultry.
- Expanding humane slaughter practices of CAS/CAK to include the elimination of live shackling/live dumping.
- Working towards reducing antibiotic usage per the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch® program's guidelines.