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Fare from Pizza Hut is to contain fewer ingredients – a move which is expected to change food supply chains.
The global chain, which allegedly sells more pizzas than any other restaurant, is cutting out antibiotics and preservatives to be more reliant on near-sourcing, in what is expected to become a wider trend.
Starting at the end of July, meat in Pizza Hut fare will no longer contain the preservatives butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene.
And in subsequent steps, it will remove artificial preservatives from cheese as well as antibiotics from chicken in its pizzas. These are scheduled to be gone by late March next year.
“We believe Pizza Hut food shouldn’t only taste great, but you should feel great about it, too,” said Jeff Fox, chief brand and concept officer.
He added that these steps were being taken in response to preferences expressed by the company’s clientele.
Last year Pizza Hut removed artificial flavours and colours from its core pizzas and has eliminated partially hydrogenated oils and MSG.
According to Chris Connell, president of perishables logistics specialist Commodity Forwarders, the chain’s move is part of a broader trend among restaurant chains for a fresher look to their menus.
However, taking out preservatives will reduce the shelf life of the food, which has ramifications for supply chains.
Mr Connell believes this will lead to an increased emphasis on near-sourcing, but does not envisage a broad shift to faster modes of transport – other than an initial effort to avoid supply chain hiccups.
“A lot of this goes by boat. There may be a brief spike of ingredients getting shipped by air, but their price doesn’t allow for a major ingredient to be shipped by air on a sustained basis,” he said.
“It will be more windows of opportunity than an organised roll-out.”
Another factor that looks set to limit the appeal of airfreight is that many of the restaurants and concept stores that embrace food without additives tend to champion local products, he added.
Meat and seafood, on the other hand, are increasingly moved as airfreight, Mr Connell noted.
“On the protein business, we’ve seen more airfreight in the play,” he said.
Given the rising appetite of Chinese consumers for imports of fresh seafood and premium meats, this augurs better for airfreight carriers than restaurant chains’ decisions to take out additives and preservatives from their fare.