Guzman y Gomez is spending $1 million to go free range

Guzman y Gomez founder, Steven Marks (centre). Photo: Supplied.

Guzman y Gomez is openly going after the fast food industry.

The last time we spoke to Steven Marks, the founder of Guzman y Gomez, he said: “What’s in McDonald’s’ food is f***ing wrong, it’s disgusting.

“I’ve got a big mouth, I’m from New York, and I want to be heard and I want it to be right.”

Now he’s putting his money where is mouth is.

Over one million dollars, in fact.

Tomorrow Guzman y Gomez will be the first fast food brand to use only fresh Australian free range chicken.

The move to free range chicken in its 74 taquerias nationally adds 20% additional cost to the ingredient, however, it’s part of a broader race among fast food companies and the food industry in general to present a healthier and more ethically-sourced range of products.

Sumo Salad began using free range New Zealand chickens in 2014.

Burger chains Hungry Jack’s and McDonald’s are phasing out caged eggs by the end of next year – Subway has already made the move – with Hungry Jack’s getting the jump on its rival with a “no hormones” promise in its beef with no added hormones, a move supermarket Coles embraced several years ago. Around 40% of Australian beef still contains hormone growth promotants to help the cattle gain weight. Guzman y Gomez is making the move next year, along with making it grass fed, and also promises to use sow stall free pork from next month. The pork industry has pledged to end the use of stalls, which prevent a mother pig from moving, in 2017.

“Everyone thinks fast food is bad food and that convenience and affordability comes at a cost. But we’re out to show the world this is just not true,” said Marks.

“We’ve spent the last 10 years nailing the speed game — serving real, fresh food at fast food pace with no microwaves, and without cutting corners. And now that we’re big enough to create real change, we are proving it is possible to do all that and still act ethically as a business.

“First step is improving animal welfare and we’re starting with our largest protein — we go through more than 80,000kg of chicken each month. We’re incredibly proud to be only serving Australian FREPA accredited free range chicken in all our taquerias.”

A million dollar investment

The cost of the move to free range isn’t cheap though.

According to Marks it will be an investment of more than $1 million.

“Moving to 100% unprocessed Australian free range chicken has been a significant investment for us, an investment of more than $1 million in fact, and it is one that we have no qualms making,” he told Business Insider.

“We reached a stage and size where we can create real change in the industry by doing what is right. We believe consumers shouldn’t have to pay businesses to do the right thing and will not be passing any costs onto customers.”

Marks has made it his mission to create change in the industry by leading by example showing that it is possible to serve food fast without compromising on quality, taste, nutrition or animal welfare.

In a bid to challenge the industry to raise its standards, Guzman y Gomez is leading a pro free range rally on Friday, September 16, in World Square, Sydney, where guests and industry will come together to push for change.

“Moving to free range is no gimmick. It’s something we care deeply about and a decision we’re committed to. We hope others in the industry will join us, and help raise animal welfare standards across the whole fast food category,” said Marks.

Find out more about the Fix Fast Food rally here.

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