Activist cage-free reports, deadlines and consumer trust

Many U.S. cage-free commitments made by restaurants are due in 2025. Will these pledges be met, and will consumer trust be damaged if they are not?

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Natura Step
Courtesy Big Dutchman

Almost a decade ago in the U.S., many restaurants made pledges that committed them to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs by 2025.

With that deadline fast approaches, companies operating in the restaurant sector are being urged to be more transparent about their cage-free status. The call has come from animal activist group the Humane League, which in its Eggsposé report, published April 2024, says that consumer trust is impacted by reporting transparency.

“Consumers should be able to trust the brands they purchase from,” stated Humane League. “The 2024 Eggsposé reveals which restaurants are transparently reporting their cage-free progress… and which brands risk losing the valuable trust of their customers.”

Consumer trust is becoming more of a priority to customers and producers as there is a growing interest in how foods are produced and where these foods come from.

While the industry suspects, but doesn’t know for sure, that activist reports such as Eggsposé are pushing customers to make these commitments, housing legislation is certainly a driving factor for cage-free transitions. By the end of 2026, about 22% of the U.S. population will live in a state with a cage-free housing mandate.

Ultimately, restaurants that made cage-free pledges did so of their own choosing. As the deadlines draw closer, companies will need to offer updates on how the transition is going.

The report

Restaurants businesses that are praised in the report for meeting their cage-free commitments on time, or early, include: McDonalds, Taco Bell, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, T.G.I Fridays, Yum! and Denny’s.

While many restaurants with commitments that have not met their 2025 goals are featured for reporting or not reporting progress, the report criticizes those companies that have no cage-free commitment. Amongst companies drawing criticism are: Culver’s. Scooters Coffee, Dominoes, Zaxby’s and Chicken Salad Chick.

How are U.S. egg producers balancing cage-free pledges, conversions?

Despite the impacts of ongoing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks, many U.S. egg producers are still working towards transitioning to cage-free production, even though their customers could extend their cage-free pledges to a later date at the last minute.

In WATT Global Media’s 2024 Egg Industry Special Report, most producers predict an ample supply of cage-free eggs in 2025-26, with any shortages being brief. In 2023, 58.6% of U.S. egg producers added cage-free housing with outdoor access and 48.3% closed at least a portion of caged housing.

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