If you’re a fan of fast food, chances are you’ve heard of Hardee’s. This popular chain is known for its mouth-watering burgers and breakfast biscuits, but have you ever wondered where their beef comes from?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sources of Hardee’s beef and explore the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed cows. We’ll also delve into the history of Hardee’s and its parent company, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.
So grab a burger (or a salad, if that’s more your style) and read on to learn more about the origins of Hardee’s beef.
Where Does Hardees Beef Come From?
Hardee’s beef comes from a variety of sources, including cows that are raised in feedlots and given a diet of grains. This type of beef is leaner and has less flavor than grass-fed beef, which comes from cows that are allowed to graze on pastures. Grass-fed beef has a higher fat content and is often preferred by those who enjoy the taste of meat.
It’s worth noting that Hardee’s does offer some chicken and turkey burgers, as well as sandwiches made with ham or bacon. However, for those who prefer not to eat red meat or animal products altogether, the options at Hardee’s may be limited.
The History Of Hardee’s And CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.
Hardee’s Restaurants LLC is an American fast-food restaurant chain that was established in 1961 in North Carolina by Wilber Hardee. Over the years, the company has gone through several corporate ownerships, with the latest being CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (“CKE”). In April 1997, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Carl’s Jr., acquired Hardee’s for $327 million from Montreal-based Imasco Limited. The merger created a chain of 3,828 restaurants – 3,152 Hardee’s outlets in 40 states and 10 foreign countries and 676 Carl’s Jr. outlets, primarily in California.
Under CKE’s ownership, Hardee’s has evolved into a leader in the quick-service restaurant industry with a renewed emphasis on premium quality. The brand built its reputation on a unique breakfast menu featuring Hardee’s mouth-watering Made from ScratchTM Biscuits. In recent years, Hardee’s has taken the lunch/dinner segment to the next level with its line of 100 percent Black Angus Beef ThickburgersTM.
In June 2018, former CKE CEO Jason Marker announced that Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s would become separate brands, claiming that CKE’s racy advertising and marketing campaigns were incompatible with a family-oriented chain like Hardee’s. In April 2019, Ned Lyerly, a 30-year veteran of the company & formerly President of CKE’s International division, was named CEO replacing Jason Marker.
Today, Hardee’s has a total of 1,815 restaurants located throughout 30 states in the Midwest and Southeastern US as well as internationally. The company is headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee and is owned by CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., a privately held company that also owns and operates Carl’s Jr.® restaurants. With over 3,800 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 43 foreign countries and U.S. territories combined, Carl’s Jr. Restaurants LLC and Hardee’s Restaurants LLC have become beloved regional brands known for one-of-a-kind premium and innovative menu items such as 100 percent Black Angus Thickburgers®, Made from ScratchTM Biscuits and Hand-Breaded Chicken TendersTM.
Where Does Hardee’s Beef Come From?
Hardee’s sources its beef from various suppliers, including feedlots and off-shore producers. While the parent company, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., buys meat from Australia, Hardee’s does not exclusively source its beef from one location. It’s unclear whether Hardee’s buys grass-fed beef from local or international producers.
Additionally, Hardee’s has built its reputation on its breakfast menu featuring made-from-scratch biscuits. The brand has also taken the lunch/dinner segment to the next level with its line of 100 percent Black Angus Beef ThickburgersTM. Hardee’s has established itself as a leader in the quick-service restaurant industry with over 1,800 locations throughout the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
In 1997, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. acquired Hardee’s for $327 million, creating a chain of 3,828 restaurants worldwide. In June 2018, former CKE CEO Jason Marker announced that Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s would become separate brands due to the incompatibility of CKE’s racy advertising and marketing campaigns with a family-oriented chain like Hardee’s.
Grass-Fed Vs. Grain-Fed Cows: What’s The Difference?
When it comes to beef, there are two main types: grass-fed and grain-fed. The difference lies in what the cows are fed and how they are raised. Grass-fed cows spend their entire lives grazing on pastures, while grain-fed cows are typically raised on pastures for a few months before being moved to feedlots and fed a diet of grain-based feeds.
Grain-fed beef tends to have whiter colored fat with more marbling, which is responsible for a lot of the flavor and tenderness of beef. On the other hand, grass-fed beef typically has a more yellow-colored fat and is leaner with less overall marbling and fat. Many people have a personal preference for the flavor of either grain or grass-fed beef, so it’s worth trying both to see which you prefer.
In terms of nutrition, grass-fed beef tends to have more favorable fatty acid profiles and nutrient content. Grass-fed cows have more muscle and less fat, which means grass-fed beef has less fat, fewer calories, and more protein. The main fatty acids that are elevated in grass-fed beef include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and the omega-3 fats alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The higher levels of CLA and omega-3s in grass-fed meat may contribute to improved cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive health. Research has also shown that grass-fed cattle that eat a diversity of plants have concentrated levels of antioxidant-rich phytonutrients in their meat and milk.
In contrast, grain-fed cows are rapidly fattened with grain-based feeds that are usually made from a base of soy or corn. To maximize growth, the cows are often given drugs such as antibiotics and growth hormones. While grain-fed beef may be juicier and more flavorful due to its higher fat content, it may also contain higher levels of saturated fat and lower levels of beneficial nutrients.
The Quality Of Hardee’s Beef
The quality of Hardee’s beef has been a topic of discussion among consumers. According to Hardee’s website, their beef comes from 100% Angus cattle that are raised without hormones or steroids. However, it’s important to note that Hardee’s also uses a filling made from textured vegetable protein in some of their patties. This may raise concerns for some consumers who prefer their burgers to be made entirely from real beef.
While the use of textured vegetable protein may sound like an unhealthy ingredient, it actually provides several benefits. It adds flavor without adding any fat or cholesterol to the meal, which is beneficial for those watching their weight. Additionally, it provides more nutrients without adding unnecessary calories to the plate.
It’s also worth considering the environmental impact of using only 100% pure beef in every burger. The amount of land needed to raise enough cattle for this purpose would be significant. By using a mix of real and artificial beef, Hardee’s is able to provide a wider range of options while also being mindful of the environment.
Sustainability And Ethical Practices In Hardee’s Beef Supply Chain
Hardee’s is committed to sustainability and ethical practices in their beef supply chain. The company has partnered with organizations such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to identify climate mitigation opportunities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their supply chain. Hardee’s has also implemented grazing management planning and adaptive management practices with ranchers to improve sustainability outcomes related to carbon storage, wildlife habitats, water, and other ecological and economic parameters.
Additionally, Hardee’s is investing in emerging technologies and introducing new ideas to reduce emissions, as well as identifying ways to partner with customers to reduce food waste. The company is working closely with farmers, ranchers, and supply chain partners to serve as stewards of the earth while achieving greater business results and efficiencies.
The U.S. beef industry, including Hardee’s suppliers, is a global leader in sustainable beef production due to decades of research, innovation, and improvement. The industry has had the lowest beef greenhouse gas emissions intensity in the world since 1996, which is 10 to 50 times lower than other regions of the world today. Hardee’s recognizes the importance of sustainability and ethical practices in their beef supply chain to ensure long-term food production, economic security for ranchers and their communities, and a healthy environment for all.