Taco Bell continues to provide the boldest and freshest flavors – food that’s customizable and fits your lifestyle, with a commitment to never compromise on flavor. They’re also making it easier for you to learn what’s in their food. Taco Bell was one of the first quick service restaurants to post its full nutrition information online in 2005, and now they’re making it even easier to understand what’s in their food. Their nutrition calculator allows you to customize and calculate your favorite order, so you can make an informed decision. Taco Bell believes everyone deserves good food – food that fits your lifestyle, ingredients that are simple to understand, and quality you can feel good about. They are proud of what they’ve accomplished and remain committed to creating craveable tastes and being transparent.
At Taco Bell, they recognize the dietary and lifestyle needs of their customers are unique and highly personalized. They’ve committed to offering relevant options and evolving their menu to meet the ever-changing lifestyles that define today’s culture, without compromising the flavor and value people love and expect from Taco Bell. For example, in 2015, Taco Bell became the first and only QSR to offer menu items certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). They offer 13 AVA-certified menu items and a number of individual certified ingredients that can be customized in millions of ways, including:
- 38 vegetarian ingredients, including reduced-fat sour cream and nacho cheese sauce
- Of 38 vegetarian ingredients, 28 are also vegan, including black and pinto beans and premium Latin rice
- 46 made-without-gluten ingredients, including regular taco shell, DLT shells and tostada shells, which are also AVA-certified vegetarian or vegan
For those looking for more protein, Taco Bell launched Cantina Power in 2014. This evolution of their Cantina menu combines high protein and big flavor. It features burritos and bowls packed with lean protein and nutrient-rich produce, with more than 20 grams of protein all under 500 calories or less. Because customers want the classic Taco Bell flavors they love, they also include real cheddar cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, premium guacamole and freshly prepared pico de gallo.
Taco Bell listens to their customers daily, and know that in addition to new menus that fit different lifestyles and cravings, customers also want choices that are balanced. That’s why three fourths of Taco Bell’s menu is 500 calories or less. And for breakfast, nearly 1/2 of the menu is 400 calories or less. For ways to enjoy lower calorie, lower fat options, almost all items on Taco Bell’s menu can be ordered “Fresco-style” – which replaces mayo-based sauces, guacamole, reduced-fat sour cream and cheese with freshly-prepared pico de gallo. This usually provides a 25 percent reduction in fat. Ordering from their signature Fresco Menu offers seven signature items with less than 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. Their Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco contains 150 calories and four total fat grams versus 200 calories and 10 total fat grams in the traditional Grilled Steak Soft Taco.
So whether people are looking for vegetarian, made-without-gluten, high protein, lower calorie/lower in fat, in the mood for something indulgent or all of the above, Taco Bell has food for all that is easy to customize and easy to order in their restaurants, on their website – Ta.co – or through the Taco Bell mobile app.
At Taco Bell, transparency with customers is extremely important to them. They were one of the first quick service restaurants to voluntarily post their ingredient statements, nutrition and allergen information online in 2015. Taco Bell provides detailed nutrition information that is accessible 24/7 through their website and mobile app. They partnered with a regulatory consultant in 2005 to implement consistent and standardized ingredients statements, making it even easier for customers to understand what’s in their food. Taco Bell also added a nutrition calculator to the website – a simple, readily available tool that allows its customers to nutritionally customize their favorite order and stay informed and conscious about their food choices.
Taco Bell U.S. initiated its ongoing commitment to reduce sodium levels in 2008. Partnering with suppliers and third-party experts, they continuously evaluate ingredient technologies and functionalities with to help reduce sodium levels while maintaining the flavors their customers love. Since embarking on this journey, Taco Bell has reduced sodium on average by 15 percent across the menu.
Taco Bell committed to only using sustainable palm oil in their ingredients by the end of 2015, replacing unsustainable palm oil with RSPO-sustainable palm oil or other oils, like canola. With hash browns, they partnered with their suppliers to ensure that only 100 percent canola oil was used.
In 2007, Taco Bell’s U.S. restaurants completely switched to using trans fat-free high-oleic canola frying oil. With the exception of a few ingredients containing one gram or less, all menu items are free of artificial trans fat. They are committed to completely phasing out all artificial trans fat from their menu by 2017.
Calories and Fat
At Taco Bell, there are choices for everyone, including customers who are looking for lower calorie and lower in fat options. For instance, our Fresco Menu has seven signature items that are each under 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. Customers also have the option to make almost any item on our menu “Fresco-style,“ which usually provides a 25 percent reduction in fat by replacing mayo-based sauces, guacamole, reduced-fat sour cream and cheese with freshly-prepared pico de gallo. If you’re ordering through the Taco Bell mobile app, there’s a “Make it Fresco!“ button, making the swaps easy to order.
Taco Bell is proud to offer a menu that has no added monosodium glutamate (MSG), however co-branded Frito-Lay menu items do contain some MSG.
Allergens and Sensitivities
Across all of our brands, they manage guidelines regarding allergens and sensitive ingredients and restrict them in current menu items and in future product development. For example, tree nuts are not used at Taco Bell restaurants.
They identify potential allergens and sensitivities for all products and publish that information on their brand website – ta.co – for customers. Consumers also can customize their meals using the online nutrition calculator and create a meal that meets their lifestyle and dietary needs, including allergens and sensitivities.
Taco Bell discontinued kid’s meals and toys at its U.S. restaurants in January 2014, becoming the first national quick service restaurant chain to do so with nationwide implementation.
At Taco Bell, it’s important that when they make changes to their menu – whether it’s a new innovative taco or removing artificial ingredients – that they engage the right stakeholders. Over the past four years, they’ve identified and engaged with core influencers to share their plans and hear their feedback. They connect with influencers regularly and have established partnerships to ensure the credibility of their food. For example, Taco Bell has partnered with the American Vegetarian Association (AVA) to become the first quick service restaurant to offer AVA certified vegetarian food items, featuring 13 AVA certified-menu items and 38 certified vegetarian and vegan ingredients. Customers can customize their vegetarian and vegan ingredients to create certified vegetarian meal options beyond just side dishes
Taco Bell has also been working on building internal ambassadors sharing what they call their “Food for All” journey and milestones with franchisees and employees via training modules, new hire modules and internal communications.
We have had an active partnership with Dairy Management, Inc.™ (DMI) since 2012. With dedicated resources including nutrition experts and onsite dairy scientists, DMI works directly with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut to create new and innovative products using dairy to delight customers. DMI is funded by America’s nearly 49,000 dairy farmers, as well as dairy importers.
Building People Capability
The Pulse is Taco Bell’s way of measuring culture and engagement in the restaurants. Team Members can take the survey at the restaurant or at home (where applicable) via their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer. This program is the brand’s way of connecting directly to the Team Member and provides valuable perspectives to help leaders build culture in the restaurants. The insights gained have led to important initiatives such as Customer Recovery. To continue to feed people’s lives with más, Taco Bell and its franchisees use The Pulse to maintain a great place to work with structure, incentives, and rewards around what is most important to the Team Members.
Grateful Rallies have been created to show Team Members how grateful Taco Bell and its franchisees are for its people and saying thank you for everything they do. In 2016, Grateful-inspired rallies will take place in all restaurants across the nation. This year, Taco Bell will launch the rallies in mid-May focusing on education. Taco Bell wants to show Team Members that they can not only grow their careers with Taco Bell, but that they can also grow their minds and hearts. During the rallies, Taco Bell will introduce the Live Mas scholarship funds available to Team Members and the community.
Taco Bell has utilized social media in an effort to engage and recognize Team Members across the country. The use of social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook to recognize Team Members allows Taco Bell to bring their recognition culture to life in new ways, engage Team Members, and share their appreciation with a mass audience. Now, stories shared by customers of Team Members providing great service are broadcasted across these channels to give Team Members recognition on a greater scale.
Taco Bell finds great value investing in not only the technical skills of restaurant employees, but also leadership skills. Through this, programs are created and tested to teach and enhance the leadership skills of: restaurant Shift Leads - our first level restaurant managers, Restaurant General Managers (RGMs) and Area Coaches - those who oversee multiple Taco Bell restaurants.
The first program, “theMark” is designed for RGMs, and it has been developed as a journey of personal development and professional transformation. This program is advanced learning that is intended to take an RGM and their restaurant to the next level of performance. Held in Irvine, CA, at the Taco Bell Restaurant Support Center, theMark experience provides a facilitated process to investigate RGMs’ growth and vision as leaders, and help them develop a culture in their restaurant that has their personal stamp…their “mark”!
Since launching in 2013, more than 2,000 RGMs have attended theMark. Taco Bell has measured that RGM turnover is significantly lower in restaurants where the RGM has attended theMark. RGMs who have gone through theMark have made positive changes in their restaurants including developing plans to reach their goals, recognizing and celebrating team members, and giving back to their local communities.
For Area Coaches, a program called The Quest, a transformative leadership development experience, had its first pilot in October 2014. Since then, more than 100 Area Coaches have participated. One participant of the pilot said this of The Quest, “for the Area Coaches that do not have a lot of formal leadership training, this class is a must…and for those Area Coaches with lots of leadership training this class will really help you bring it all together and focus on your Quest to being the best leader you can be.”
Most recently, Taco Bell launched theSpark, a 1-day program geared towards developing restaurant Shift Leads to become better leaders and develop life-long skills. Topics covered include: leadership best practices, developing a personal brand, communicating effectively, delivering feedback and managing conflict.
Taco Bell continues to explore additional leadership development programs for its employees, and is always listening to its employees to understand what they want and need most to succeed at their job and in life.
Taco Bell builds the communities it serves by making a positive impact through education and building 21st century leaders. The brand offers a number of programs to help employees achieve their education goals, both at the high school and college level.
For employees seeking to earn a college degree, Taco Bell has partnered with Yum! University and Excelsior College, an accredited nonprofit institution. Taco Bell employees and their immediate family can earn a college degree through Excelsior College at a 40 percent discount on books and tuition. Further, employees enrolled in the program automatically receive 48 credit hours for their on-the-job training, so they’re 40 percent of the way towards a bachelor’s degree [120 credits] at no cost to them.
In an effort to make education opportunities accessible to employees, Taco Bell partnered with General Educational Development (GED) Testing Service in early 2015. This program provides an anytime-anywhere online learning platform with access to GED prep and testing that generally takes between 2-3 months to complete. Taco Bell funds company employee scholarships for any team member seeking their GED.
Additionally, Taco Bell U.S. awards approximately $120,000 annually in scholarship funds through the Glen Bell Scholarship, named for the brand’s founder. Each year, Taco Bell grants between 65 and 70 of the $1,000 and $2,000 scholarships to hourly employees enrolled in 2-year or 4-year degree programs respectively.
In Spring 2016, the Taco Bell Foundation will expand its Live Mas Scholarship program to restaurant employees of all ages. Live Mas Scholarships provide resources for this nation’s next generation of dreamers, innovators and creators – say ‘the other kids’ – who do not fall into the conventional “academic” or “athletic” qualifying categories of traditional scholarship programs.
Taco Bell Area Coach Digital Routines
We live in a world in which technology is ever-changing. In order to be a proactive player in the digital age, Taco Bell has implemented Area Coach Routines on one digital platform to help field leaders prioritize and execute tasks. This helps Area Coaches focus on what’s important – taking care of teams and customers. Over 100 Area Coaches across 900 corporate restaurants utilize these digital routines, as well as 320 franchise restaurants. Digital Routines improve organization and efficiency by eliminating paper from the process. This new investment in technology enables real-time notifications and provides access to information about restaurant visits, follow up items, past visit reports, food safety information, and action plans. Moreover, Digital Routines provide an opportunity for more effective performance appraisal discussions by providing data on completed Success Routines, action items, and results.
About Taco Bell Foundation
Taco Bell Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit 501(c) (3) public benefit corporation with the founded focus of investing in the potential of America’s youth through education and helping them realize their dreams. Since 1992, the Foundation has reached more than 5 million young people across 600 youth-serving organizations and about 1,700 high schools in the U.S. through partnerships and programs like GraduateforMas.com, and has awarded more than $75 million in scholarships and grants focused on education and career readiness. In 2016, Taco Bell and the Taco Bell Foundation launched the Live Más Scholarship, a program aimed at empowering the nation’s next generation of dreamers, innovators and creators – those whose passions don’t fall into the conventional “academic” or “athletic” qualifying categories of traditional scholarship programs. For more information visit tacobellfoundation.org.
Environment in Action
Taco Bell Parking Lot Lighting Retrofit
Across the nation in 2014, Taco Bell restaurants changed their parking lot lamps for greater efficiency as part of an effort to reduce its local utility consumption. During the course of the project 6,841 lamps were changed for an anticipated annual savings of just over 1,000,000 watts. Replaced lamps were recycled whenever possible. Retrofitting parking lot lighting with more energy efficient lamps and fixtures not only reduced operating costs, it improved overall lighting levels, enhanced safety at night and is good for the environment
Taco Bell Ramps Up Air Conditioning Energy Efficiency
As part of Taco Bell’s sustainability vision, the brand is changing its new store air conditioning system designs to variable speed technology to help reduce its cost of operating a restaurant and reduce its carbon footprint. Rough estimates indicate a 20 percent or better reduction in energy consumption when using variable speed technology combined with high efficiency exhaust hoods. This is the first step in greater air conditioning efficiency. Taco Bell feels there is much more opportunity available and intends to improve their performance in this area of design.
Solar Power Experiments at Taco Bell
In sunny California, a forward thinking Taco Bell franchisee installed a 200 foot long roof over the drive-thru that is covered with solar panels. This building is the first mostly solar powered restaurant for the brand. Although it is not feasible for every Taco Bell restaurant to be solar powered at this time, this is an inspiring example of one possible path to reduce our local environmental footprint. An additional test, although more limited, is being conducted at a restaurant outside of El Paso, Texas where Taco Bell is evaluating solar panels that can generate enough electricity to power about 25 percent of its lighting.
Taco Bell Works to Improve Existing Buildings
At Taco Bell, remodels and maintenance are a growing opportunity to reduce impact on the local environment and refresh their restaurants’ image while maximizing profitability.
With each company remodel and maintenance equipment update its goal is to reduce local utility consumption by using energy efficient air conditioning equipment, lighting, heat reflecting roofing, water efficient plumbing fixtures, as well as water wise irrigation systems where the local weather conditions make irrigation necessary. These improvements can result in up to 15 percent energy savings, 10 percent building-water savings and 40 percent in irrigation water conservation when implemented. In many restaurants, Taco Bell is also replacing old inefficient HID lot light fixtures with energy efficient fixtures.
Taco Bell’s sustainability vision extends beyond these current practices. It’s exploring the use of ultra-high efficient air conditioning units to replace existing units, as well as switching to more efficient kitchen equipment.
Taco Bell Lives Más with Sustainability
From the way Taco Bell builds their restaurants to the impact they bring to the communities they serve, Taco Bell is implementing sustainable practices across their business. With an aim to lead the industry in sustainability innovation and action, Taco Bell’s goal is to build all future company-owned restaurants according to the Yum! Brands’ Blueline sustainable building standard. They plan to do it by focusing on the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profits.
Taco Bell has been exploring ways to reduce its environmental footprint since 2009. A new Blueline Taco Bell restaurant uses, on average, 35 percent less energy and 20 percent less water. All of these improvements are based on an average composite 25 percent return on investment target, or better, for all sustainable improvements to help ensure maximum returns and margin improvements. In addition, their current restaurant design will allow them to take advantage of local recycling programs when they become available and prepare them to adopt recycling programs.
Moving forward, Taco Bell will continue to raise the bar on its approach to sustainable construction by integrating the re-use of building material and furnishings and capturing run-off water and the sun’s energy on-site. They are also exploring ways to economically provide more natural light in their kitchens through energy efficient windows, which will create a brighter, cleaner workplace. As they incorporate sustainability into their business, it is equally important to communicate its commitments to employees, partners, suppliers and customers so they too take pride in the improvements being made.
Taco Bell Reduces Irrigation Water
With each remodel and maintenance equipment update, Taco Bell’s goal is reduce its local utility consumption. Irrigation sprinklers are one of the hidden users of water. Built on the successful implementation of measures at the Yum! Brands corporate office in Louisville, Kentucky where we reduced water consumption by 30 percent, amounting to about 1 million gallons of water each year, Taco Bell took up the cause and rolled out improved irrigation systems in many of its U.S. restaurants in 2014. With the improvements, Taco Bell has reduced irrigation water consumption by an estimated 40 percent.
Taco Bell aims to lead the industry in sustainability innovation and action started with a small but substantial change that was made to the interior Taco Bell lighting design in 2013. Restaurant base designs were updated to include dining room LED ceiling lights as standard. Implementing this change saves energy and results in less waste and time spent by employees changing light bulbs due to the new technology and useful life of the product. Today, the brand’s new interior lighting design has since been implemented across all new restaurants at some level and was included in many of the renovations in 2014, resulting in over 25,000 fixtures installed and substantial savings.
Taco Bell drives Carbon Reductions
Exploring ways to reduce Taco Bell’s environmental footprint has been a big focus of the brand since 2009 and we have made great strides while serving customers delicious food, an awesome experience and remaining attractive to our business partners.
As Taco Bell looks to become a leader in sustainability, the company is taking action to improve its design and equipment in existing restaurants to benefit its customers and environment. The brand has already retrofitted more than 900 restaurants (about 14 percent of all Taco Bell restaurants) with energy and water efficient measures which will result in substantial energy and water use reductions. Thanks to these improvements, as well as the new sustainable ground-up restaurants design, Taco Bell has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions system wide. Our updated sustainable restaurant design reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 28 metric tons per restaurant per year vs. our pre-2009 design. Taco Bell intends to improve on this year-over-year as one of our main goals.