McDonald’s meets US cage-free pledge goal two years early

The fast-food chain made the original 100% cage-free egg sourcing commitment in 2015.

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McDonald’s announced it has achieved its 100% cage-free egg sourcing goal in its U.S. locations two years ahead of its original timeline.

The chain said it was able to meet the pledge early due to its egg suppliers making the necessary changes and converting their operations to cage-free housing. According to McDonald’s, it utilized animal welfare experts and academics to help its egg producers build and renovate their farms and implement new technology.

"Our journey to move to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs in the U.S. was a huge undertaking — made uniquely possible by our owner/operators, Cargill and their egg producers, and our supply chain working together as one team," stated Bob Stewart, Senior Vice President, McDonald’s North America Chief Supply Chain Officer.

McDonald’s announcement specifically mentioned Minnesota-based Forsman Farms and Michigan-based Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch.

“As a family, we sat down and said, 'Are we going to be able to do it?',” said Peter Forsman, Forsman Farms Owner. “We had zero cage-free systems, and we knew this was going to be a big challenge.”

Herb Herbruck, Herbruck's Poultry Ranch President, said “I really can't say enough about our partnership with Cargill and McDonald's. They understand the difficulties that we have.” Herbruck added, “They want to hear about our challenges, and they want to help us through them.”

Will everyone’s cage-free deadlines be met?

Even though fast-food chains like McDonald’s have met their cage-free goals early, others that source a larger number of eggs have extended their commitments, and even said they may not ever meet in full.

In 2022, grocery store chains Walmart and Kroger announced they would not be able to supply 100% cage-free eggs by 2025, as they had previously committed, due to supply issues, the cost of production and the strain that grocer cage-free pledges put on the U.S. egg industry. 

Egg Industry’s recent Annual Top Egg Company Survey asked major U.S. egg producers how they thought the nation’s hens would be housed in 2025. U.S. egg producers predict over half of the nation’s hens will still be housed in cages in 2025. However, the combination of states that have passed cage-free housing mandates and future cage-free egg purchase pledges by major egg purchasing companies, if all are met, would require approximately two-thirds of the U.S.’s hen population to be cage free in 2025.

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