McDonald's Surprises Us All With Major News

Photo: Courtesy of McDonald's.
For a big company like McDonald’s, to institute large-scale change, demand needs to come from below (consumers) and above (legislators). Today’s announcement that the fast-food chain will be shifting exclusively to cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada is a perfect example of the “perfect storm” necessary for change. Customers have become more aware and concerned about both animal rights and the quality of food, and legislative changes in the farming industry are making it easier for companies to make these kinds of large-scale shifts. Leadership is also essential, and Steve Easterbrook, the new CEO of McDonald’s, is focused on making the chain what he calls a “modern, progressive burger company." (NBC News)

This announcement is a major development, especially in light of the fact that McD’s recently announced it will be serving breakfast all day, though not without some caveats. Namely, the menu will be limited to a handful of items — either McMuffin or biscuit sandwiches, pancakes, sausage burritos, yogurt, and oatmeal — and the selection will vary by location. The good news: Its beloved hash browns may be available, depending on where you live. The bad news: McGriddles, not so much.

Limited menu or not, the impact of all-day breakfast stands to be huge.The New York Times also reports that, as it stands now, McDonald’s uses “2 billion shells and liquid eggs annually.” While some people have already voiced concerns that this will have an effect on pricing, McDonald’s is such a big purchaser that it has the power to help bring down the cost of cage-free eggs. The transition will take about 10 years because, as it stands now, there aren’t enough cage-free farms to accommodate the demand (The Times reports that less than 10% of the nation’s laying hens are cage-free.)

While "cage-free" does not mean the hens are roaming around in open fields, we still applaud McDonald’s for another step in the right direction.
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