Dunkin' Will Test Selling Salads with New Partnership
A handful of Dunkin' locations are adding healthier menu items prepared by Farmer's Fridge.
Dunkin's image has certainly changed over the years. Once primarily known as a donut shop, Dunkin' began honing in on Starbucks' success by shifting much of its focus to coffee drinks—even going so far as to drop the "Donuts" from its name. And though, sure, Dunkin' won't be your first thought for health food any time soon, a recently revealed partnership is giving Dunkin' one of its healthiest options yet: salads.
Chicago-based Farmer's Fridge focuses on "wholesome, delicious food"—like almond butter oat bowls for breakfast and Buffalo chicken ranch salads for lunch—served in portable jars out of automated smart fridges (essentially fancy vending machines). Launched in 2013, the company now has nearly 400 of its fridges stationed across six states, according to the Chicago Tribune, and they're hoping to expand further by serving as alternative options at Dunkin' locations.
Six Dunkin' restaurants—three locations in Chicago and another three in New Jersey—are taking part in a three-month trial that will see a selection of Farmer's Fridge's menu items like Greek salads, burrito bowls, pesto pasta, Greek yogurt, and chia pudding served alongside Dunkin's usual fare. Similar to how they stock their vending machines, Farmer's Fridge will prepare the food in their facilities and then deliver them to participating Dunkin' stores.
"When it was founded seven years ago, Farmer's Fridge focused on distributing its fresh food through a network of smart refrigerated vending machines, now found in airports, universities, office buildings and hospitals around the country," a Farmer's Fridge spokesperson stated, according to NJ.com. "But as convenience stores and fast food franchises hope to expand their offering, Farmer's Fridge saw a market for a wholesale business."
The Dunkin' deal is apparently Farmer's Fridge first fast food partnership, but founder and CEO Luke Saunders told the Tribune other restaurant partnerships are set to be revealed in the next 18 months. And he has big ambitions with Dunkin': "If we can figure out how to put this in every Dunkin' we would absolutely do that," he was quoted as saying. "It's not that these chains don't want to offer them (salads and other fresh meals), it's that the supply chain has made it hard in the past… Seven years in, we are able to provide a solution to solve a problem."
Still, you have to wonder, will existing customers who see salads at Dunkin' choose to buy them? And if not, can Dunkin' get enough recognition as a chain that sells healthier options to get new customers to walk in the door? The chain wants to find out. "Dunkin' is committed to delivering a wide variety of delicious, convenient menu choices to help keep our guests running all day long, including options that make it easier to eat on-the-go," Dunkin' told us in an emailed statement. "The test is designed to gather valuable feedback from consumers, franchisees, and their employees to help inform future decisions."
Don't expect to be bundling your order of a French cruller with a Greek salad just yet.