This move comes as a rise in consumer demand for humanely produced food has increased. Many animal welfare activist have been pushing to see livestock out of cages. Burger King is the first to make the official move while many other companies are responding as well.
Traditionally, conventional eggs come from hens that are confined to “battery cages.” These are cages that give the hen about as much space as a sheet of notebook paper. Most pork comes from sows who are confined in narrow crates during their four-month pregnancies.
These conditions are pretty rough and have many activists upset. The cage-free hens will be housed in barns with room to move and they’ll have perches and nesting boxes. The cage-free sows will be indoors but no longer in crates while pregnant. These methods raise production costs according to egg and pork producers.
Despite the possible rise in costs, Burger King made this decision as part of the company’s social responsibility policy. Currently nine percent of the company’s eggs and 20 percent of the pork being served are cage-free. They have 7,200 restaurants worldwide where Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork annually. If other restaurants follow their lead, the business of humanely raised food animals could see a huge boom.
Other big names are making plans to change their supplies, but no one has made an official declaration, yet. McDonalds and Wendy’s, the number one and number two chains, are working on eliminating the gestation crates. Wal-Mart and Costco have made a leap and shifted their private-label eggs to 100 percent cage-free. The Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand will be made with cage-free eggs soon too. Restaurants like Sonic, Subway, and Ruby Tuesday along with manufacturers like Kraft Food and ConAgra Foods are planning on incorporating some percent of cage-free eggs in their products, but not a complete overhaul.
Well treated food animals tends to lead to healthier food. Well done Burger King, it’s a step towards real food in our restaurants. They are trend setters and hopefully this trend continues.