A&W Goes Beyond the Supply Chain

ameule    November 5, 2018

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Canadian who hasn’t heard of A&W. That’s because their first location opened over 60 years ago, and they have over 900 locations across the nation. They were often the first nationally branded restaurant in a community. And while their frosted mugs are embedded in our memories, they continue to evolve with their customer’s changing needs.

From farm to table, the supply chain in the food service industry is under intense scrutiny from customers who not only want to know where their food is coming from, but also the humanitarian and environmental effects. With a demand for transparency, social media can impact the supply chain addressing customers’ desire for better understanding of how products are sourced.

And A&W Canada is leading the pack, with quality products that speak to a changing demographic. They’re the first and only national Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) in Canada to serve beef raised without the use of hormones or steroids, pork and chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, and eggs farmed in Canada from hens fed a diet without animal by-products. And yes, they also serve organic, Fairtrade coffee, too.

A&W is very clear on their supply chain; with complete transparency in all aspects from start to finish on all food products from their root beer, to their beef, and even their lettuce. In fact, their Instagram account is completely focused on the sources of their food products.

This summer, to feed a growing demand for plant-based protein, they launched California-based Beyond Meat’s burger, and it sold out in a matter of weeks. “It became even more popular than we had expected,” CEO Susan Senecal told Jen Skerritt of Bloomberg News.

Maintaining the proper inventory of ingredients, especially when you’re talking about unique products, can be tricky. They kept customers informed about its return on Twitter and Facebook. Social media creates visibility into an organization’s supply chain, which enhances customer satisfaction.

It’s not just with their food products that A&W leads the charge in supply chain management. Social media can generate ideas for improving supply chain processes through collaboration. A&W takes advantage of this by setting an objective to make environmental standards part of their supplier selection, as evidenced by their collaboration with other businesses for Waste Reduction Week.

They have taken great strides to reduce their environmental footprint when it comes to food packaging whether it’s glass root beer mugs, ceramic coffee mugs, or reusable mini fry baskets. Always one step ahead of the competition in sustainability, A&W will be the first QSR in North America to eliminate plastic straws.

And it keeps getting better! They’ve replaced all A&W menu items that feature cheese with real cheese, made using 100% Canadian milk. “We believe that sourcing simple, great-tasting ingredients, farmed with care is the right thing to do. Serving real cheese instead of processed cheese was the logical, and delicious, next step,” says Senecal in a company release.

Lessons for Others

A&W is an industry leader in sustainable supply chain management and their use of social media every step of the way sets them apart from the competition. They monitor customer concerns and opinions, communicate delays/product outages, and are a leader in environmental changes within the industry.

Organization: A&W Canada
Industry: Fast Food
Name of Organization Contact: Susan Senecal, CEO

Authored by: Amber M

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


A&W Canada, Retrieved November 4, 2018 from https://web.aw.ca/en/home,  http://awenviro.rethinkcommunications.ca/supply_chain.html, and https://www.aw.ca/awhome.nsf/environment-food

Carr, P. (2018). Supply Chain Management Week 5 Course Content Material. Retrieved November 4, 2018. https://learn.uwaterloo.ca/content/enforced/395788-CE-SMBP100_001_cel_1189T1191/lecture-content/weeks/week5/week5.html?ou=395788

Dallaire, Justin (2018) A&W first North American QSR to ditch plastic straws Retrieved November 5, 2018 from http://strategyonline.ca/2018/06/11/aw-first-qsr-in-north-america-to-ditch-plastic-straws/

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Sagan, Aleksandra (2018). Meet A&W’s first female CEO. Retrieved November 4, 2018 from https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/2018/05/13/aw-ceo-susan-senecal/

Sagan, Aleksandra (2016). How burger chain A&W is beating its struggling rivals by focusing on food quality. Retrieved November 4, 2018 from https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/how-burger-chain-a-w-is-beating-its-struggling-rivals-by-focusing-on-food-quality-1.542011

Skerritt, Jen (2018) A&W sold out of its new plant-based burger all across Canada in a matter of weeks Retrieved November 4, 2018 from https://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/canadian-burger-chain-sells-out-of-plant-based-patties

Scott, Sherri Days (2015) The Evolution of Farm to Table. Retrieved November 4, 2018 from https://www.qsrmagazine.com/menu-innovations/evolution-farm-table