McDonald’s has made a big, if somewhat daunting, announcement today: Slowly but surely it will transition to cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada.
Right now less than 10 percent of U.S. hens are cage-free, meaning it could take McDonald’s an entire decade to totally gravitate over to eggs laid by comfier, happier hens. The company uses 2 billion eggs per year, if you count both shell and liquid form, which is roughly 4 percent of all the eggs produced in America.
The juggernaut’s rollout of all-day breakfast, coupled with the news of this year’s record-setting avian flu, naturally raised concerns that a jump in Egg McMuffin sales could be rather unkind to egg prices. But McDonald’s claims transitioning to cage-free eggs will ultimately help, an executive says, “We believe over time that, with our scale, we will be able to mitigate cost impact on our system.”
The Times says the megachain started looking into hen housing as early as 2010 and that it’s also already made cage-free commitments in smaller markets like New Zealand earlier this summer and Australia last September. Once the changes come to McDonald’s North America, 8 million laying hens will get a housing upgrade, and as the Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro tells the Times, by doing this McDonald’s “effectively ends any debate that there may have been over whether cages have a future in the industry.”