It’s two-pronged for Panera—drive awareness around the issue and how it relates to food, and secondly, enable customers who value climate change and want to help, to link with a brand that streamlined the process.
Initially, the educational journey for Panera will live digitally. Customers will see the message on the app, site, and social media. And Panera will communicate directly with its 40-million-member MyPanera loyalty base, which accounts for north of 50 percent of all transactions.
These channels have only gained relevance during COVID-19. In time, Chaudhary says, Panera will bring the information to hardware and menuboards inside cafes. Most of Panera’s dining rooms are currently open under social distancing and market-to-market CDC and official guidelines.
Presently, Panera’s digital properties are where most of the commerce is, Chaudhary says.
One message Panera wants to make sure is crystal, too, is the notion that while plant-based foods do have a lower impact on the environment than meat and dairy ingredients, there is some nuance to consider. The amount of product on the plate matters. Panera shared a hypothetical: If, each year, every person in the U.S swapped 10 of the brand’s Chicken Avocado Melt sandwiches with chips for 10 quarter-pound burgers with fries, it would reduce emissions by 77 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Another way to look at it—the impact would be the equivalent of pulling 16 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
“We are putting now all of our data online so that people can have that information of what’s the carbon footprint of all of our entrees, because we do believe in being transparent and honest,” says Sara Burnett, Panera’s VP of food values, sustainability and public affairs. “We want to continue to help people feel good about their choices.”
“By labeling Cool Food Meal menu items, we hope to educate our guests on sustainable options and help them understand the correlation between their meals and the climate,” she adds. “While many consumers are more aware of solutions such as driving less and recycling—the impact of your plate is real and just as important.”