HSUS grades companies on animal welfare pledges: see how McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks and others performed
Over the last decade, dozens of corporations from Walmart to McDonald’s have promised to reduce animal suffering in their supply chains, including eliminating cages for egg-laying hens, ending the sourcing of pork from operations that use gestation crates, and mandating better treatment of chickens in the poultry industry. A report card we are releasing today tracks the progress these and other companies have made toward achieving these important goals.
On the positive side, our Food Industry Scorecard found that many companies are making tremendous strides toward implementing the changes they’ve promised to make. Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food corporations, is more than 60% toward its goal of using only cage-free eggs. Costco, the second-largest retailer in the world, reports that 94% of its eggs are cage-free. And Unilever, also one of the world’s largest food conglomerates, is 99% of the way toward a cage-free egg supply chain.
Unfortunately, many companies also report no progress, or only minimal progress, or have failed outright to keep their promises. For example, despite a 2012 promise to “rapidly eliminate” gestation crates, the restaurant chain Subway hasn’t reported any advances toward that goal; in fact, at present, Subway does not report using any amount of gestation-crate-free pork.
We also determined that some companies that publicly made strong commitments quietly went on to weaken them. Starbucks promised to switch to 100% cage-free eggs—an announcement covered in Forbes, Fortune, TIME and other outlets. But the company later discreetly altered that pledge to apply just to company-owned locations, excluding the roughly 40% of its restaurants that are licensed.
Other companies surveyed appear to have backtracked altogether. Marriott, for example, announced in 2013 that it would eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain within five years; however, on its scorecard submission, the company reported that it does not have such a policy now.
Altogether, we surveyed roughly 100 of the largest food companies, asking them a series of questions designed to help us measure their movement. Our goal is to show compassionate consumers and other observers which companies are following through on their promises and which are lagging behind. It will also help those corporations working earnestly to eliminate practices tied to animal cruelty and suffering to reassure their customers that they are delivering on their pledges.
We feel a sense of urgency in this work, because the situation for animals raised for food in and this country (and around the world) remains grim. Millions of pigs are still locked in gestation crates, and most of the egg industry’s 300 million hens are still confined inside cages. Billions of chickens raised for meat continue suffering through cruel conditions that deny their most basic biological and behavioral needs.
That’s why we are calling on companies that are failing to take their pledges seriously—or that have never made meaningful pledges—to get in step. Animals suffering in the food supply chain don’t need empty promises, they need tangible changes. We’re going to hold companies accountable, and push them to do better.