We’re starting 2016 where we left off in 2015 – with major news in our ongoing campaign to end the era of intensive confinement of hens and breeding sows. Today we announce with Wendy’s, the world’s third largest fast food chain, that the company is taking another big step forward on the farm animal welfare front. Working with The HSUS, the Ohio-based fast-food giant has pledged that it will switch exclusively to cage-free eggs by 2020 throughout its U.S. and Canadian locations.
This isn’t the first time Wendy’s and The HSUS have worked together on continued progress for animals. In 2012, Wendy’s committed to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain with a timeline. In 2014, it began requiring updates from its pork suppliers on their progress shifting to group housing. This past year, the company also began offering an all-vegan black bean burger at test locations, hoping it would become a fixture on its national menu.
I’m not sure anyone could’ve predicted the cascade of announcements on cage confinement of laying hens that The HSUS has generated in the past year. Nearly every top restaurant chain (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc.), food manufacturer (Nestle, Unilever, General Mills, etc.), and food service company (Compass Group, Aramark, Sodexo, etc.) has committed to going 100 percent cage-free with timelines. Costco became the first major supermarket chain to announce a commitment in December, and it alone sells more than four billion eggs a year.
The Wendy’s commitment coincides with Smithfield, the world’s largest pork company, announcing today that 81.8 percent of its domestic company-owned operations have shifted to sow group housing and the completion to 100 percent will occur by 2017. According to its plans, its international operations—including those in Mexico—and its U.S. contractors, will all exclusively use sow group housing by 2022.
A decade ago, there was a smug view within certain sectors of animal agriculture that these confinement systems were untouchable, and that they were the only practical means of production in a world with an expanding human population and a consumer base that demanded the most inexpensive food. That was a gross misjudgment on their part. Change is here, and it’s happening on so many fronts – on the production and retail side – and it’s being driven by a firm view among consumers that animals built to move should be allowed to move.
Stay tuned as we make 2016 the year in which no major food company is left without a policy to eliminate cages and crates from their supply chains. That’s our goal, and we want you to join us in achieving this outcome, in order to improve the lives of tens of millions of creatures who need our voices and depend on our resolve and, ultimately, our success.