McDonald’s, Walmart report progress on cage-free egg use
McDonald’s and Walmart for the first time this year reported how much progress they have made in their commitments to sell only cage-free eggs, Compassion in World Farming reported recently.
McDonald’s reported 33% progress toward its goal of cage-free in 2025, while Walmart reported 14% toward its goal to go cage-free by 2025, according to the group’s Egg Track system that follows the progress companies have made on their cage-free promises.
The report says that 128 companies have pledged to go cage-free by 2026 or earlier, and that 51 companies made reports this year, up from 27 in last year.
Using Agriculture Department data, Compassion in World Farming said that, as of July, 20.5% of the U.S. laying hen flock was cage-free, compared to 9.8% in September 2016.
The report says, “This growth shows that the number of cage-free laying hens has more than doubled from 30.5 million to 67.1 million between September 2016 and July 2019, while the battery-caged laying hen flock declined from 281.2 million to 259.9 million during the same time period.”
“Over almost three years, there was a total increase of 36.6 million laying hens living in cage-free housing, compared to a 21.3 million decrease in the number of laying hens living in cages.”
Virtually all of the top food companies in the U.S. have committed to going 100% cage-free by 2026 or sooner, but the rate of conversion to cage-free housing needs to increase if suppliers are going to meet the companies’ demands, the report says.
Assuming egg demand remains relatively constant and that an average hen produces roughly 289 eggs per year, an additional 142.32 million laying hens will need to be introduced to cage-free housing over the next 6.5 years — an average of 22.18 million laying hens a year, the report says.
“While the rate of transition needed to meet demand is higher than what it has been to date, it is not unachievable, especially if companies begin making the necessary investments in their supply chain now and in turn further facilitate producers’ conversions to cage-free systems,” the report concludes.
Compassion in World Farming was founded in the United Kingdom, but has a branch based in Decatur, Ga. ❖