Starbucks Delivers an Extra Shot for Hens

By on October 1, 2015 with 13 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

You could argue that it’s the year of the elephant – with Ringling Bros. announcing it will phase out its use of elephants in traveling acts, California lawmakers passing bills to ban the bullhook, Hawaii’s governor barring elephant acts, and both China and the federal government of the United States making specific pledges to end the commercial trade in ivory. You could also say it’s the year of the chimp, with the end of invasive experiments on our closest living relatives. But there’s also a case to be made that it’s the year of the chicken, with a cascade of announcements from major food retailers that they will eliminate the practice of buying eggs from farms that confine hens in cages.

Today, there was another announcement that puts one more feather in that hat. I’m pleased to announce that Starbucks, one of America’s biggest and best-known retail brands, is switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2020, offering the prospect of a better life for tens of thousands of hens. I told you in December on the blog that Starbucks was going cage-free, but at the time, there was no phase-out date. Today, we have a specific timeline.

A decade ago, Whole Foods was the only major food seller with 100 percent cage-free eggs, and Bon Appétit Management Company was the only food service company to take on the issue. Today, the five largest food service companies (Compass Group, Aramark, Sodexo, Delaware North, and Centerplate) all have timelines to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs, and most of them made or fortified their announcements in 2015. Unilever (maker of Hellmann’s/Best Foods) is going 100 percent cage-free by 2020. Burger King is switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2017. And McDonald’s – which buys nearly four percent of all eggs in the country — announced this month that it’s switching all of the two billion eggs it uses annually to cage-free within 10 years. The world’s biggest food retailer, Walmart, has pledged to honor the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare and shift away from battery cages.

When I started an animal advocacy group at Yale in the mid-1980s, confronting factory farming as a moral imperative, it seemed an immovable mountain. Industrial agriculture interests were entrenched and able to fend off maneuvers from a poorly organized animal protection movement, corporations in the food retail sector were inattentive to these concerns, and consumers were largely in the dark.

But we are on the cusp of a major turn in the road when it comes to agriculture and food. We are getting closer to the end of the era of intensive confinement of animals on factory farms. And the biggest arena of change is in the corporate sector. The leadership demonstrated by companies like Starbucks, along with the powerful impact of voters in California approving Prop 2 in 2008, are driving the sort of change that all of us have sought for years. It is time not to relent, but to push even harder for a quick transition away from our failed national experiment in confining and immobilizing animals as a protein production strategy. A cage-free future awaits.

Farm Animals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Chris says:

    “A cage free future awaits”? Way to aim very low. How about a world free from animal cruelty awaits? Cage free doesn’t mean cruelty free.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Now on what planet do you think that chickens in cage free facilities are treated better than those in battery cages? We all know better than that. Humans should not be using animals at all, let alone trying to convince themselves that a chicken raised in a warehouse style barn with a few hundred other chickens is living a good life.

  3. Laura Flores says:

    I support Starbucks all the way, in the ‘Free Hot Hens’, Campaign!!!

    • Holly says:

      Wonderful way to pay tribute to World Vegetarian Day. Kudos to Starbucks and the other businesses for this move and to all the work the human society is doing to bring better lives to these intelligent creatures.

  4. Annie Flores says:

    I support Starbucks all the way in their ‘Free Hot Hens’,campaign!!!

  5. kent driskell says:

    Like I said, always 5 years or more, went do a listen. right NOW

  6. Sharon says:

    Cage free eggs require inordinate amounts of cruelty to the hens. Please don’t think these hens are outside running around like they were born to. Cage-free eggs are still produced in extremely overcrowded conditions requiring manipulating the hen’s molt by the use of lights. It is an extremely horrific life for the hen who suffers so much. The only humane option is to stop using eggs. Period.

  7. Gwen Ferry says:

    I hope Starbucks accept only free range which can only mean out in the open yard in the dirt, the grass, the sunshine, not in a stinking smelly shed/barn which is not at all suitable. The Egg Board are crafty and will do anything to support the farmers who don’t care about the birds one iota. The farmers have had way too long to make the shift, they simply don’t give a dam!

    • Gwen Ferry says:

      Sorry and another five years seals the fate of another billion hens to a life of total and utter misery. Shame on Starbucks for delaying, it is not like they haven’t had the chance to do it earlier!!!

  8. SheilaLaPorta says:

    This is wonderful that all these companies plan to change and will only use cage-free eggs. BUT my issue is why in the world will it take 7-10 years for most of them to change. That seems totally wrong to me. It doesn’t take a decade to change a process.

  9. Elaine Nash says:

    Cage-free sounds great, but that doesn’t prohibit chicken factory farms from raising thousands of chickens in warehouses, all crammed up together and walking around in chicken manure. Free Range chickens are given the opportunity to go outside in good weather, chase and eat bugs, dust themselves in the dirt, sun themselves, and live like chickens are meant to. I don’t understand why the effort stops at cage-free, rather than pressing factory farms to offer free range chickens.

  10. Lyn says:

    So what’s there to celebrate about? The poor Chickens Will Still BE ABUSED, MISTREATED, AND TORTURED for another Five to Ten years? Why do they have to wait so long to stop doing these awful things to the poor suffering chickens? Someone needs to be torturing these company executives and let someone tell THEM that their suffering will stop in about 5 years and see how THEY would feel if someone was stomping on THEIR poor defenseless bodies and breaking THEIR arms. “Oh, don’t feel too bad. All this will stop in a few years.” and then CRACK under someone’s boot a head gets stomped on.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.