Eggs From Cage-Free Hens Gain Traction Despite Pandemic

Companies committed to producing eggs with cage-free chickens have made progress this year despite the pandemic that roiled supply chains, according to the annual EggTrack report Thursday.

Of the 210 companies monitored by Compassion in World Farming, 134 made progress in goals to go cage-free by 2026 or sooner. That includes General Mills Inc., which increased its global cage-free sourcing to 55% from 40%, and McDonald’s Corp., which expanded cage-free sourcing to 43% from 33% in its U.S. operations and maintained 100% in the European Union.

“We went into this expecting the worst because of the pandemic,” Katya Simkhovich, senior food business manager at Compassion in World Farming, said by phone. “We ended up seeing really good progress.”

Companies are pushing for eggs laid from hens living outside of cages in order to cater to consumers demanding better animal welfare. Egg prices surged to a record earlier this year as lockdowns prompted by the spreading Covid-19 pandemic resulted in customers clearing U.S. stores of eggs as they stocked up on food.

The report stated that some companies retracted cage-free goals or reported no progress, such as Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King, which pulled back its commitment for Europe.

The restaurant owner said it is committed to transition to 100% cage-free eggs for its Burger King and Tim Hortons outlets in North America and Latin America by 2025, and is evaluating transitions in other markets “independent of activist outreach,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Moves to go cage-free also come as some regions, such as the entire U.S. West Coast, put laws in place that either ban or put in limits on cages where birds are kept.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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