Yum! Brands social responsibility report focuses on nutrition, sustainability

April 11, 2013 | by Alicia Kelso

Yum! Brands Inc., parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has released its online Corporate Social Responsibility Report titled: "Serving the World." For the first time, the CSR report focuses on four pillars — food, people, community and environment.

"We are proud of the great strides our brands are making across the globe to be socially responsible companies," said David Novak, chairman and CEO. "Further, we're excited about the strong commitments we are taking going forward, which we've highlighted in this year's report."

Highlights of the food and environment pillars specifically are outlined below.


The company's goal is to "be the preferred restaurant of choice for consumers seeking a delicious, balanced option by offering more choice, more transparency and nutritional improvements to our ingredients."

Recent efforts include improving nutritional attributes of the brands' menus and promoting physical activity programs. In 2012, Yum! named Jonathan Blum as its chief global nutrition officer to help drive the company's nutritional improvement goals across all brands.

Initiatives include offering:

  • More choices. Taco Bell, for example, has the lower calorie, lower fat Fresco menu as well as the Cantina Bell menu, in addition to its classic offerings. The brand is also working to rollout healthier options at a pace in which 20 percent of its combo meals meet federal nutritional guidelines for calories and fat by 2020.
  • More transparency. Currently, brand websites list ingredients for each permanent menu item and nutrition brochures in restaurants. Also, Yum! U.S. does not advertise its products on TV programs aimed at children 12 years old and younger.
  • Nutritional improvement. According to the company, for example, 1 million pounds of salt are removed annually from the KFC U.S. menu. Additionally, 70 percent of global restaurants have removed palm oil from cooking oil and Pizza Hut U.S. has a sodium reduction plan in place to "further develop, test and roll out incremental gains" through 2014.
  • Kids' meals. In focus for the first time this year is kids' meals, which represent less than 2 percent of U.S. business. KFC's new Li'l Bucket Kids Meal, with a Kentucky Grilled Chicken drumstick, totals 210 calories.  New this year is Pizza Hut's School Lunch Pizza. Meeting the United States Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program Nutrition Standards, the pizza is made of 51 percent whole wheat crust, lite mozzarella cheese and reduced fat and sodium pepperoni. Pizza Hut also plans to make nutrition, allergen and ingredient information easier for customers to access this year.

The company is also focused on its food safety and quality efforts, and has stepped up quality assurance efforts since some Chinese chicken suppliers were accused of providing steroid-enhanced products. Yum! Brands' suppliers are selected, assessed and rewarded through the Supplier Tracking and Recognition (STAR) system for all brands' key suppliers. In 2012, the company began testing and integrating the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) system into the STAR system. With this process, suppliers that have been certified under GFSI-benchmarked audit schemes have their performance and compliance monitored by QA personnel in Yum! divisions who review these audits in addition to Yum! Quality Systems audits.

All suppliers are audited at least once a year, with higher frequency based on risk and performance levels. Yum has a proprietary, interactive web-based monitoring system for tracking supplier performance, which was upgraded in 2012-2013 to enhance supplier compliance reporting.

Yum! is also currently working to synchronize its animal welfare program and policies throughout all of its global markets. The company has an Animal Welfare Advisory Council that researches new methods for improved practices. The current principles, which apply to the company's chicken suppliers in the U.S., include animal treatment; partnership with industry experts; ongoing training/education; performance quantification and supplier improvement; and communication with industry leaders.

To help further drive food safety enhancements in the produce supply chain, a Produce Safety Advisory Council was formed to advise the company's brands. The council includes industry produce experts and premier academic experts in produce and food safety.

The council has implemented the following in the U.S.:

  • Field inspections of produce suppliers that focus on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and water testing for E. coli.;
  • Pre-planting inspections to ensure only low-risk fields are used;
  • Pre-harvest testing for E. coli and Salmonella pathogens of produce, including iceberg lettuce, cilantro, romaine lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and onions;
  • Finished product lot-by-lot testing of fresh-cut produce;
  • Wash water system improvements for fresh and fresh-cut produce as well as research into new, more efficacious methods of washing produce;
  • Leading initiatives with the produce industry to establish standards for food safety compliance in the tomato supply chain as well as standardization of GAP audits for all produce; and more.


Yum! is also working to reduce its footprint through the following environmental goals:

1. Design and build all new company restaurants to be LEED certifiable by 2015. The company says it's on target with this specific goal. At the end of 2012 the Yum! system achieved certification for restaurants in the U.S., United Kingdom, Turkey, China and India. Although individual markets and franchisees will have the option, they will not be required to submit for certification as part of the 2015 goal. They will be participating in an internal commissioning process designed to comply with minimum requirements.

Yum! Brands is a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The U.S. LEED restaurant is located in Indianapolis. The KFC restaurant is designed to use 25 percent less energy and water than a conventional KFC restaurant. It features energy-efficient cooking equipment, low-power, long-life LED lighting, locally sourced building materials, fixtures designed for lower water use, waste recycling (including cooking oil and plastics) and many other green innovations.

2. Reduce energy consumption in company-owned restaurants 15 percent by 2015. The company says it is above target. Since 2006, an energy reduction goal was first put into place, conservation efforts have prevented the release of 569,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. That is equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas release from more than 118,500 passenger cars. Some efforts toward this accomplishment include a California-based Taco Bell franchisee's 200-foot-long roof over the drive-thru that is covered with solar panels. In the UK, Yum! is testing a system that converts its used cooking oil into electricity and heat water through an on-site generator.

3. Reduce water consumption in company-owned restaurants 10 percent by 2015. The company says it is below target on this goal. Efforts to step it up include optimizing irrigation for landscaping restaurants in the U.S. Also, beneath a KFC parking lot in France is a 20,000 liter tank that holds rainwater collected from the roof. This system, currently under test, is responsible for providing irrigation water to keep the landscape green and for providing water to restrooms.

4. Implement supplier environmental audits by 2015 to drive improvement in five key areas: energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste/recycling, pollution reduction and environmental management. Yum!'s Australia market introduced this in 2009. Canada followed in 2010 and UK/Ireland in 2012. Three additional markets are planned this year.

5. Purchase paper-based packaging with fiber from responsibly managed forest and recycled sources. Yum has developed sustainable sourcing and waste recovery principles to reduce the impact of its food packaging and will give preference to suppliers who source wood fiber certified by a third party.

Yum! is also looking at ways to increase its recycled content. Throughout the next several months, Yum! will work with its suppliers and gather data on all paper-based packaging sourcing to assess its content, identify higher risk sources, avoid or phase out of unwanted sources, and preference more responsible sources.

In 2012, Pizza Hut U.S. released a redesigned pizza box with a reduced front edge. This subtle change is estimated to save more than 9,000 tons of paperboard annually. Also as part of its effort to move toward renewable paper based resources, KFC has reduced plastic packaging in the KFC U.S. system from 40 to 28 percent by weight.

6. Work to implement waste recovery projects that will reduce, recycle and reuse waste in all company stores. For example, KFC U.S. franchisee KBP Foods installed an automated closed-loop oil distribution system in all of its163 restaurants. A closed-loop oil management solution automates fresh oil delivery, storage, handling and disposal of used oil.

Read more about sustainability.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies, Food Safety, Operations Management, Pizza Hut, Social Responsibility, Sustainability

Alicia Kelso
Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine. View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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