McDonald’s recently announced that one-third of egg purchases for its U.S. restaurants were sourced from cage-free hens. The company also announced that 30% of its egg purchases for its Canadian restaurants were produced by cage-free hens. McDonald’s made a pledge to only purchase eggs from cage-free hens by 2025 for its U.S. and Canadian restaurants in September 2015.
In 42 months since making the pledge, McDonald’s has made it one-third of the way to fulfilling its U.S. pledge. The company has 79 months to meet its deadline, assuming December 31, 2025, as the target date. An average rate of conversion of 0.85% per month is needed to meet the pledge on time, and the company has converted at a rate of 0.79% per month so far. Considering how long it takes to get a new farm built or an old farm converted from cages to cage free, the fact that McDonald’s suppliers are on pace to meet the pledge is impressive.
It will take cooperation between egg purchasers and producers in the U.S. to avoid market chaos. If egg purchasers really want to buy only cage-free eggs by some future date, they must work out a schedule with suppliers and commit to start ramping up cage-free egg purchases now.
On March 13, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced the launch of a “Food Industry Scorecard” to be sent to what the group calls “the country’s largest food companies.” These food companies are asked to report progress on purchase pledges made in relation to eliminating “objectionable practices in its supply chain.”
I am no fan of HSUS, but I am interested in seeing where food companies say they are relative to their 100% cage-free egg purchase pledges. Transparency may help balance supply and demand for cage-free eggs, which will be good for everyone.