Operations

McDonald’s reaches cage-free egg goal ahead of schedule

The burger giant, which bought nearly 2 billion eggs last year, said it had to rework its supply chain to meet its sourcing demands.
McDonald's Egg McMuffin
McDonald's said it has reached its goal of serving only cage-free eggs. | Photo courtesy: McDonald's

McDonald’s on Tuesday said it had reached its goal of serving only cage-free eggs in its restaurants ahead of schedule.

The burger giant, which last year bought nearly 2 billion eggs, committed in 2015 to switching to 100% cage-free eggs by 2025.

But doing so was a significant lift for the company, one that required a transformation of its supply chain.

“Creating a supply of cage-free eggs at McDonald’s U.S. scale wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Cargill and their egg producers,” the chain said in a blog post.

McDonald’s said it worked with animal welfare experts and academics to help its egg producers build and renovate their farms.

Egg-laying hens who live in cage-free environments are widely considered to have better lives than those in battery cages, which average less space than one sheet of letter-sized paper, according to The Humane Society of the United States. Hens in those cages are unable to spread their wings, nest, perch or engage in other instinctive behaviors, while cage-free chickens are able to walk, lay their eggs in nests, spread their wings and more.

In 2019, McDonald’s reported that about one-third of the eggs it served came from cage-free operations.

“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,” McDonald’s SVP Bob Stewart, the North American chief supply chain officer, said in a statement.

As both consumers and companies increase their concern for the environment and for animal welfare, a number of restaurant brands have set cage-free egg goals in recent years.

In 2016, Denny’s said it would transition to cage-free eggs by 2026 and Bob Evans vowed to do so by 2025. Last year, Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes, said it intends to only serve cage-free eggs at all of its restaurants around the world by 2030.

For McDonald’s egg suppliers, the shift was a major undertaking.

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

 

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