Operations

Hopdoddy joins the movement to go seed oil-free

The Texas-based chain joins Shake Shack in transitioning to a more planet-friendly vegetable oil alternative developed by Zero Acre Farms, which has Chipotle as a backer.
Hopdoddy chicken sandwich
Hopdoddy's chicken sandwich and tenders will be fried in oil made from fermented sugarcane. | Photo courtesy of Hopdoddy.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar on Tuesday said it will be the first burger burger chain to go “seed-oil-free”—at least in 10 locations to start.

The Austin, Texas-based chain is transitioning its frying fat from soybean oil to Zero Acre Farms oil, which is made from sugarcane plants, and is positioning as a vegetable oil alternative that is more healthful and better for the planet.

Last month, Shake Shack announced a similar move, saying two restaurants in New York City will exclusively fry its crinkle cut fries and other items with Zero Acre oil, rather than soybean oil. Shake Shack said it is the first restaurant in New York to fry with the new product.

Chipotle, through its Cultivate Next venture fund, invested in Zero Acre Farms earlier this year, which at the time was calling the product “cultured oil.”

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Zero Acre Farms contends that production of soybean, palm, canola and sunflower oils take a toll on the planet. Zero Acre’s product uses less land, less water and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which will help companies that are working to reduce the carbon footprint of their supply chain, the company said.

At Hopdoddy, the move is scheduled to begin at 10 restaurants in Texas, where menu items like hand-cut fries, loaded brussels sprouts, and fried chicken for tenders or sandwiches will be “clean-fried” using the Zero Acre oil.

When the oil is rolled out to all 47 Hopdoddy locations, for example, the burger chain estimates it will save 38 million square feet of land and 250 million gallons of fresh water annually, as well as avoiding 2,350 metric tons of carbon emissions.

In a separate move, Hopdoddy also recently announced another planet-saving tactic by adding to its menu regenerative meat, beef that has been raised with land management techniques that sequester carbon and restore native grasslands. (That move is comically explained in a video here.)

Zero Acre oil has a neutral taste and is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. And it’s lower in calories because about 15% less oil is absorbed when frying food, compared with sunflower and palm oil.

“Our guests have been asking us to go seed oil-free, and Hopdoddy listened. We found that Zero Acre was the best fit for us, and it has a neutral, clean taste that improves the flavor of our product,” said Matt Schweitzer, Hopdoddy’s vice president of innovation, in a statement. “It offers a high level of healthy fats while also being immensely better for our planet.”

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