Wendy’s says its beef supply is almost back to normal

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This is Dave’s Combo cheeseburger meal from a Wendy’s restaurant in Pittsburgh Tuesday, May 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Wendy’s beef shortage is over — almost.

The company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that “at this point in time, beef supply has returned to near-normal levels across the Wendy’s system.”

Early last month, the chain was suffering from spot shortages as beef suppliers throughout the United States temporarily shuttered plants because workers had fallen ill.

One analyst estimated in May that nearly one in five of Wendy’s restaurants were out of beef. Around 1,000, or 18%, of Wendy’s 5,500 US restaurants were not serving any hamburgers or other meat-based items, according to an analysis of online menus at every location conducted by financial firm Stephens. Wendy’s was “more exposed” to the shortage sparked by the coronavirus pandemic because of its reliance on fresh beef compared with its competitors, the note said.

The disruption inspired Wendy’s to shift advertising efforts away from its red meat products and toward chicken. Wendy’s also removed some items from its digital platforms in areas where they were unavailable to help manage customer expectations. That menu change had an impact on its digital business, the company said in the filing.

Monday’s announcement is on schedule. Just over a month ago, Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor said during an earnings call that the company would probably experience a “couple of weeks of challenging tightness that we’ll have to work through” before getting back to normal.

Wendy’s said in the filing Monday that its US same-store sales for the month ended May 31 were down 2%. That’s an improvement from the month ended May 3, when sales were down 14%

Wendy’s has also seen success with its new breakfast platform, which rolled out just before the pandemic hit.

At this point, 99% of Wendy’s US restaurants are open.

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