Panera Inspires, While Costco Lags

By on November 6, 2015 with 7 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Yesterday, Panera Bread – with nearly 2,000 restaurants – became the latest company to fortify its commitment to strong animal welfare policies, pledging to go completely cage-free for its egg supply in the coming years. In addition, last week, Kellogg’s and TGI Fridays also set timelines for eliminating battery cages from their supply chains. We applaud these companies for their decisions. Looking at changes within the broader food retail sector, 2015 has been extraordinary when it comes to farm animal protection, with pledges coming from the biggest names to end the era of extreme confinement of animals in cages and crates barely larger than their bodies. McDonald’s, Compass Group, Starbucks, Aramark, Sodexo, Kellogg, TGI Fridays, and so many others have made pledges.

Yet there’s one major outlier: Costco. Yesterday, on the day of Panera’s exciting announcement with The HSUS, we also made a different kind of announcement – that we are stepping up our effort urging Costco to go cage-free. Our new website,, exposes the company’s unnerving tolerance for systemic mistreatment of hens in its egg supply chain; simply put, Costco is allowing its egg suppliers to lock chickens in cages for their entire lives and to give them no room to move. In 2007, Costco publicly indicated that its “next issue” in addressing hen cages was to determine a timeline for reaching a 100% cage-free supply chain. Since that time, we have attempted to work behind-the-scenes with Costco to accomplish that end. But the company has refused to move forward in any public way.

A centerpiece of our stepped-up campaign is a new hidden camera-style video, in which we take people through New York City’s “most disgusting apartment” to draw an analogy to the absolutely unlivable quarters in which the hens laying eggs for Costco’s shelves spend their lives. It’s not to be missed, and it is definitely to be shared – already with a quarter million views in a day’s time.

In June, we released an undercover investigation revealing just how miserable a life caged hens in Costco’s supply chain lead. Since then, millions have viewed the video and Costco’s received more than 12,000 phone calls from concerned customers. The likes of Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Bill Maher, and others have called for change, drawing media attention the world over. And a group of investors including Costco’s largest one, convened with us to address the matter.

We’ve been optimistic that the outcry would prompt some change, but still, Costco seems driven more by pride and stubbornness than any real desire to solve an obvious animal welfare problem. We have always liked the company, and thought it well run and good for consumers. But we won’t shirk from our responsibility to identify an obvious problem within its business model – nor to note that Costco, which said it would be a leader, is now an outlier.

We’re not just launching a new website and video, but a major national advertising campaign and more. And we are asking consumers to speak up and let Costco know what they think about a procurement strategy that draws from animals living in misery. I hope you’ll visit today, watch our new video, and share it.

P.S. Costco is headquartered in Seattle – the same city that is home to Starbucks, which has made such a strong commitment to cage-free eggs at its 15,000 stores in the United States and Canada. I also cannot help but note that the people of Seattle and King County, along with every other county in the state, favored I-1401 on the Washington ballot on Tuesday in an overwhelming and emphatic action. The people of Washington care about all animals, and it’s time for Costco, a major corporate citizen of that state, to put that same principle into action.

Farm Animals

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  1. Wayne Pacelle: Panera Inspires, While Costco Lags - Gandhi's Be Magazine | November 9, 2015
  1. Peter Hood says:

    The “realtor” actually presented the situation in a pretty mild manner.

  2. Evi Seidman says:

    Sometimes I can hardly stand the “bad news” about the miserable conditions that animals being “farmed” for food are forced to endure. Sometimes I can’t stand the shame of being part of the human race. But then, there’s Wayne Pacelli and HSUS!
    For me, they inspire hope for a better world for chickens, cows, pigs, horses and all the other animals traditional to agriculture. I am ALWAYS PROUD to be a part of HSUS! And I hope to continue increasing the level of support that I can offer!


    This is awful for these chickens to be cooped up together in CAGES . This is an horrific outrage for these innocent Animals to have to live like this . What the hell are you thinking COSCTO !!’ I believe all animals should be treated un the right humane way . Lets put you in cages with no water no food and cramped space for you to live in live out daily for the rest of your life . Do these chickens get veterinarian care ? Do you have medical care ? I bet you do !!! Change your ways of getting products from animals so they are treated with care and I would think diseases could pass onto the eggs . Then you use these eggs for human consumption ! Treat the chickens humanely . Its the right way to go . You should be ashamed of yourselves !!! What are you hiding from the Public ?! I DEMAND YOU TO SHOW THE PUBLIC WHERE YOU GET YOUR EGGS FROM !!! You should be SHUT DOWN ! AND ANYONE ELSE THAT ABUSES AND NEGLECTS ANIMALS !!!!!!!

  4. jane eagle says:

    I really like Costco, and as a mostly vegan person, I don’t buy this kind of product. HOWEVER, when I was there last week, they were selling FAROE ISLANDS salmon!!! salmon from the most evil place on earth, where compassion is a crime. I left a comment in their box, but this needs to also be an issue for them to deal with.

  5. Gertrude (Trudy) Charette says:

    My question is. How can anyone be so heartless. How can anyone do this to any living creature??? How??? Why???? Money??? Is that the only game they know how to play, with no hearts??? How so very sad.

  6. Sally Palmer says:

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”
    –F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up” (1936)
    We just have to keep on finding and sharing the facts that push progress in government, business, and individual animal protection which helps the animals, the humans, the earth, and yes, ironically, even those who profit from animals in the most nightmarish ways.

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