Dunkin’ Donuts, the beverage-snack chain, said it will begin transitioning to cage-free eggs nationwide while requiring its pork suppliers to phase out pig-breeding cages called gestation crates as part of its corporate social responsibility commitment.
Dunkin’, which has more than 10,000 locations in the United States and 31 other countries, expects that 5 percent of its eggs used in itssandwiches will come from cage-free chickens by the end of 2013.
The Canton, Mass.-based chain, which is owned by Dunkin’ Brands Inc. also said it will require its U.S. pork suppliers to present a plan that would enable the brand to formulate a timeline for eliminating the gestation crates.
In April, Burger King formulated a similar policy when it announced plans to transition to using eggs from cage-free hens and pork from suppliers who have agreed to eliminate gestation crates over the next five years.
Industry experts suggested at the time that the move would increase the Miami-based company’s supply costs.
Burger King, like some other restaurant brands, previously had come under pressure from animal welfare activists.
“Dunkin’ Donuts is committed to environmental and social responsibility, and we’re pleased to announce this commitment to continuously raise the bar for the treatment of animals within our supply chain,” said Scott Murphy, Dunkin’ Donuts vice president, global supply chain.
“We’re working with our partners at the Humane Society of the United States and our franchisee-owned distribution and purchasing cooperative to source ingredients that meet high animal welfare standards.”
The HSUS has been urging foodservice brands to transition over to eggs produced by cage-free hens and pork from by pigs not raised in gestation crates, which critics claim are unnecessarily restrictive.
“Dunkin’ Donuts move to procure eggs from more humane sources and to eliminate gestation crates reflects a strong commitment to animal welfare,” said Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for the Humane Society. “We are grateful that the company has exhibited leadership in improving the treatment of farm animals within its supply chain.”
HSUS said U.S. chains including Subway, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s, Denny’s and Wolfgang Puck already had begun to incorporate eggs from cage-free chickens into its product mix, while McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, Hardee’s and others also have taken a stand against gestation crates.
However, Richard Berman, executive director of Center for Consumer Freedom, is skeptical about such supply-oriented changes.
“Every time I see one of these companies taking advice from the Humane Society and dismissing the advice of veterinarians and farm managers, I know the decision has more to do with public relations than it does for the welfare of farm animals,” Berman said.
“What is incredible is that the public is not making these demands of the retailers. It is a totally manufactured story about consumer demand for cage-free eggs and gestation crates by the Humane society,” he said.
United Egg Producers president Gene Gregory said the cooperative has been working with the Humane Society of the United States for more than a year on proposing federal legislation that would establish a national standard for egg production that provides hens with nearly double the amount of space and perches, nest boxes and other enrichments.
"United Egg Producers continues to be a leader in animal welfare issues, while at the same time supporting consumer and customer choice," said Gregory. "Our members produce all types of eggs: conventional, cage-free, enriched colony and organic eggs. It is our hope that Congress will pass this legislation this fall as part of the Farm Bill, providing all egg producers and their customers with more definitive direction and assurances about future egg production."