You won’t find Qdoba’s name in a lot of WATTAgNet news items, but those that do include it pretty much have one thing in common: they are all related to commitments for its animal protein supply chain.

And Qdoba’s parent company, Jack in the Box Inc., has made a lot of them.

However, a deal is now on the table that would mean that Qdoba is no longer bound by those commitments. Jack in the Box announced on December 19 that it has entered an agreement to sell the Qdoba chain to Apollo Global Management, a global alternative investment manager.

Current policies

Jack in the Box thoroughly outlines its ambitions for its “animal welfare” related purchase pledges in a document posted on its website.

Those include fully converting to cage-free eggs by 2025, fully switching to gestation stall-free pork by 2022, sourcing only chicken from suppliers who raise breeds approved by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and that were rendered unconscious at slaughter by the use of controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) by 2024, and eliminating the use of medically important antibiotics by 2020.

The Jack in the Box animal welfare policy throws out a lot of names, including United Egg Producers, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, North American Meat Institute, National Pork Board and even animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin. It would make a casual reader think that these organizations fully support those animal production methods, despite the fact that many of those mentioned have publicly said they do not specifically advocate for such methods.

Time to re-evaluate policies

Apollo Global Management will now have some decisions to make. Will it agree to continue with policies established by Jack in the Box or will it go back to the drawing board and make its own decisions on how farm animals should be raised.

You can almost be assured that as soon as news of the proposed transaction was spread, proponents of GAP standards, cage-free eggs, crate-free pork and CAS had their staff members contacting Apollo.

But are those who think such “animal welfare” related policies aren’t as good for the animals as they are made out to be going to do the same?

Apollo has a good opportunity here. Qdoba is often compared to Chipotle, a restaurant chain with a similar fare. Those in the animal agriculture industry are well familiar that Chipotle, made notorious for its “Farmed and Dangerous” promotion, has a history of jumping on the bandwagon for such feel-good notions concerning how animals should be raised.

If Qdoba continues down the path set for it by Jack in the Box, there will be little to differentiate it from Chipotle, with the exception of all of Chipotle’s food safety scares.

Qdoba can now cut its own path. Will it?