When Arby’s decided to take a 2016 venison sandwich promotion national for hunting season this year, the fast-food chain faced one problem: Where to find enough venison?
The quest ended up taking most of a year and led the fast-food chain to a New Zealand supplier that sells grass-fed free-range venison, the company said. Jim Taylor, Arby’s chief marketing officer, told USA Today it was the “biggest venison promotion in the world any restaurant” has ever done.
The venison sandwiches, previously offered at select restaurants in six states in 2016, will be sold Oct. 21 at all 3,300 Arby’s restaurants across the U.S., according to the company. The chain also will offer elk sandwiches at restaurants in Thornton, Colorado, Casper, Wyoming, and West Billings, Montana.
The venison sandwich features crispy onions and juniper berry sauce on a toasted roll, while the elk sandwich has a blackberrry port wine sauce. Taylor told USA Today that the company worked with hunters and wild game enthusiasts to come up with the recipes.
“We took a look at what hunters and wild game enthusiasts love to talk about eating and elk was something that kept popping up, and we said, ‘this is another great-tasting game meat we think our guests would enjoy it,’ ” he said.
Early response to the upcoming sandwiches online seemed positive, though the 2016 offer did generate detractors who vowed to boycott Arby’s. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals objected to the 2016 promotion for promoting hunting, but has not yet released a statement on the upcoming deal.
“Hunting creates the ideal conditions for overpopulation,” PETA told Opposing Views in 2016. “After hunting season, the abrupt drop in population leads to less competition among survivors, resulting in a higher birth rate.”
When it comes to more traditional meats, like beef and chicken, most fast-food chains primarily use domestic suppliers for their U.S. restaurants.
McDonald’s says it imports a small percentage of the beef for its U.S. restaurants from Australia and New Zealand, but all of the chicken used in the U.S. comes from domestic suppliers. Wendy’s uses only North American beef in its U.S. restaurants. Taco Bell uses only USDA beef and chicken in its products.