McDonald’s recent choice to move to cage-free eggs caused organizations like The Center for Food Integrity to question McDonald’s motives.
Considering poultry- chickens, turkeys, eggs, etc.- firmly holds the spot as Kentucky’s No. 1 ag commodity, many Kentucky poultry producers turned their heads at this announcement.
Even as consumers still remember the pink goo chicken nuggets, McDonald’s announced Sept. 9 that they would transition to using cage-free eggs only within the next 10 years for all its restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
“This is a bold move, and we’re confident in our ability to provide a quality, safe, and consistent supply.” Said Marion Gross, senior vice president and Chief Supply Chain Officer of McDonald’s North America.
McDonald’s claims to base its choice with health and safety cautions, but in reality, a switch to cage-free eggs isn’t very bold, especially with current culture and market trends.
The younger generation wants a more transparent and sustainable food supply, said food industry analyst Phil Lempert; however, much of the same younger generation does not have the education in ag literacy needed to fully understand these issues.
Many consumers see the words “cage-free” and assume it’s healthier for them an that means the same thing as “free-range” or “pasture-raised”, which all have different meanings.
Between Calloway, Trigg, Graves, and Marshall counties, at least one of each different style farms exist.
This doesn’t mean McDonald’s choice to make the switch is wrong, just perhaps for the wrong reasons.
The cage-free hen houses have unique benefits like the hens’ ability to perform many natural habits, but at the same time, it comes with its own side effects including more premature hen deaths, poorer air quality for workers, and greater risk for egg contamination, according to The Center for Food Integrity.
So McDonald’s recent marketing choice could very well be a marketing and strategic branding move aimed at a younger, more eco-conscious generation rather than a move towards better food quality and care.
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