This morning, Wednesday September 9th, the multi-billion dollar fast food giant McDonald’s announced that nearly 16,000 restaurants will begin a transition process over 10 years that will eventually phase out all eggs from hens housed in cages.
The announcement will have extreme consequences on the agriculture industry, as McDonald’s uses approximately 2.12 billion shell and liquid eggs annually from the U.S. and Canada. This yearly total works out to about 4 percent of all eggs produced in the U.S.
McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres on this announcement:
“Our decision to source only cage-free eggs reinforces the focus we place on food quality and our menu to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”
It is doubtful they took into account customer expectations of the consequences of cage-free systems.
We’ve already seen the negative effects of cage-free systems play out in California, where egg producers are required through Proposition 2 to provide hens with cage-free or “enriched cage” systems. Prices for eggs in California, and any state that does interstate commerce with California (a.k.a. every single state) have skyrocketed. Families who rely on eggs for a cheap animal protein are finding it difficult to work around these rising prices, and egg farmers are struggling mightily with the increased cost of production.
United Egg Producers reports that shell egg production has been down 9 percent from June of last year to June of this year, with California’s Proposition 2 being the primary variable.
In Massachusetts, voters in 2016 may have to consider a ballot measure cleverly drafted by HSUS lawyers which would prohibit raising certain farm animals in small cages and crates, thus effectively banning the sale of eggs, pork, and veal from animals kept in these spaces. If enacted, this measure would cause a major economic split between low and higher income citizens.
McDonald’s decision will only make things worse for these people. Those clamoring for them to make these drastic changes certainly don’t need to worry about the cost of simple foods. We like to refer to those people as the “Food Elite”. They demand agricultural overhaul without considering the harmful effects it would have on consumers, producers, and even the animals themselves, who face greater risk of disease and predatory attacks from cage-free environments.
McDonald’s appears to be following in the wake of companies such as Chipotle, who has ridden the “Health Halo” to great financial benefit. McDonald’s claims that this is done in the name of “environmentally and socially conscious practices for the animals in our supply chain,” but the bottom line is that their stock has fallen for some time now and this move could be seen as a way to piggyback off Chipotle’s success.
Companies like McDonald’s and Chipotle are seen as leaders in their industry. Other companies will follow in their footsteps, leading to more struggles for those who already produce safe, affordable food but are now having their way of life attacked by these harsh demands.
It is disheartening to see the results of these decisions from major companies, but it is not surprising. They have a grand vision of success, and it does not matter to them if consumers and producers must be stepped on to reach that point. All the while, animal rights activists have their ear as they will continue to advocate for increased production alterations until it is nearly impossible for animal agriculture to be sustainable. If that were to occur, animal rights groups would have finally seen their agenda come to fruition.