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Because we have one of the largest and most diverse menus in the industry, developing a sustainable sourcing policy was no easy task. After more than a year of working with numerous stakeholders and partners, we were proud to formally publish our Sustainable Sourcing Policy in 2016. This policy lays out the social, environmental, and animal welfare goals we plan to accomplish by 2025 (unless an earlier date is otherwise noted).

Our Sustainable Sourcing Policy 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. It also demonstrates our commitment to best practices within our supply chain and establishes our buying preference for ingredients that are third-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. Lastly, we continue to monitor compliance with our requirements by internal auditing as well as third-party auditors.

We realize we have a very complex supply chain, which will require us to work closely with our vendors and business partners to meet our goals. 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 would like to share an update on our progress, efforts, and challenges over the last year.

We are proud to highlight several key successes from 2018:

  • Our culinary team continues to expand our already large and diverse selection of delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes to be one of the most extensive in the industry.
  • With regard to animal welfare, we made significant strides towards eliminating dairy cows that have been subjected to tail docking from our supply chain and we sourced approximately 50% of restaurant dairy products from cows raised without the use of rBST/rBGH. 
  • We began several projects with both the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program and World Animal Protection to reduce antibiotic usage for the animal and seafood products we purchase. These will be long-term efforts and we are thankful for the deep and thoughtful expertise of our partners. 
  • We extended our Sustainable Sourcing Policy to Canada with our newly opened company owned restaurant in Toronto.

Our Sustainable Sourcing Policy is organized around the three key areas of social, environmental, and animal welfare and is presented below in further detail.


SOCIAL

As part of our on-going effort to source in a sustainable and socially responsible manner, 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 standards, which seek to ensure that suppliers meet our expectations for doing business with us as they relate to legal requirements, ethical practices and environmental standards.

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 challenges potentially faced by individuals 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.

Goal: Compliance with our Sustainability Code of Conduct
Status: In Progress

  • Our food-based suppliers were made aware of our updated Sustainability Code of Conduct and we began to work with these suppliers to facilitate compliance. 
  • As an ongoing practice, we review our relationships on a case by case basis to determine if practices are consistent with our commitments.

ENVIRONMENTAL

When it comes to our menu, we strive to source not only the highest quality 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 wild fish stocks and pollinators are coming under increased pressure. We believe it is our responsibility to protect and better manage these vital living systems, as they keep our air breathable, water drinkable, and allow us to provide delicious, quality menu items.

While we cannot do everything all at once, we seek to focus on the highest priority issues and are partnering with our suppliers to limit our sourcing to ingredients that are produced sustainably and managed so as to minimize any adverse impact to local biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

Goal: Working towards sourcing environmentally and socially responsible seafood as defined by industry programs (such as Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch).
Status: In Progress

  • We continued to partner with SFW.
  • Through collaborative efforts with our suppliers and our partnership with SFW, we instituted a new management program to better monitor, trace, and evaluate the sustainability of the seafood we source. 
  • We are focusing efforts in 2019 on our highest volume seafood items and fresh fish.

Goal: Working to source certain unique produce ingredients which have traditionally gone to waste as unusable and/or unsellable.
Status: In Progress

  • Up to 40 % of the fruits, vegetables, and greens that are grown in the U.S. currently go to waste each year, as both pre- and post-consumer waste. Pre-consumer produce that does not meet certain cosmetic standards for shape, size, and color, but is otherwise high quality, is often discarded.
  • In 2017, we began to explore ways to further engage our suppliers and distributors to identify opportunities to utilize this “unique produce” and keep it from going to waste.

Goal: Sourcing sustainably certified palm oil (RSPO) by 2020 and establishing a buying preference for fully traceable palm oil that does not come from deforestation or clearing of high carbon stocks.
Status: In Progress

  • While only a small percentage of our menu items are made with palm oil or ingredients containing palm oil, the majority is already produced under sustainable certifications and we are actively working to transition any non-certified product.

Goal: Achieve a 15% reduction in the amount of water, synthetic pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers our suppliers use to grow our produce.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Eliminate pesticides classified as type 1a or 1b by the World Health Organization or pesticides that are banned according to national, regional, or local laws.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Encouraging produce suppliers to submit and implement annual integrated pest management plans.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Working to reduce pesticides classified as type 2 and 3 by the World Health Organization for the ingredients we purchase.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Creating biodiversity action plans which detail suppliers planned efforts to conserve natural habitat, protect wildlife, and promote biodiversity adjacent to production areas.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Create and implement a pollinator and beneficial insect conservation plan as a part of the larger biodiversity action plan.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

Goal: Working towards zero deforestation particularly from the sourcing of our produce, cocoa, coffee, and tea.
Status: In Progress

  • Current efforts are underway to better engage with our produce suppliers and to implement sustainability improvements.
  • Looking towards 2020, we will continue to develop and implement specific supplier toolkits that will focus on strategies to reduce pesticide, water, and fertilizer usage, while also preserving and protecting biodiversity and pollinators.

ANIMAL WELFARE

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. We are currently working towards our animal welfare goals which we plan to achieve fully by 2025 (unless an earlier date is otherwise noted). Our animal welfare goals seek to promote quality as well as the humane and ethical treatment of animals in our supply chain. When our goals are achieved, we will source broiler chickens, pigs, beef cattle, dairy cows, and laying hens only from suppliers who are committed to the “five freedoms” of animal welfare 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 will be provided, we are partnering with our suppliers and animal welfare experts, such as World Animal Protection (WAP), to implement specific standards, goals, and guidance related to the advancement of animal welfare through our supply chain. As a part of this partnership and our continued commitment to animal welfare, we are happy to extend our animal welfare commitments outlined in this policy to Canada with our newly opened company owned restaurant in Toronto.

"It’s exciting to see The Cheesecake Factory extending its strong commitment to animal welfare to include their new company owned restaurant in Toronto, Canada. We were proud to support them in developing one the industry’s most comprehensive and holistic animal welfare policies. The meaningful commitments made by this iconic brand show the positive changes happening for animals across the industry. With this expansion, The Cheesecake Factory will ensure all animals are sourced to the same high standards set at its locations in the U.S." 

- World Animal Protection Canada

For more information on our animal welfare policy and progress please view our 2019 Animal Welfare Update.


The Sustainable Sourcing Policy and the Sustainability Code of Conduct apply to businesses owned and operated by us prior to January 1, 2018. For businesses acquired and operated by us after this date, the requirements of the Sustainability Sourcing Policy and the Sustainability Code of Conduct will apply to such operations under the original timeline of eight years from date of full acquisition and operation by us.