- Investor Carl Icahn has nominated two new board members at McDonald's following Icahn's push for the company to create a deadline for suppliers to transition to crate-free pork, McDonald's confirmed Sunday. Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler will stand for election at the burger chain's 2022 annual meeting.
- The QSR giant pledged in 2012 to source pork from suppliers that don't use gestational crates for pregnant sows. By the end of this year, McDonald's expects to source 85% to 90% of its pork from pigs that aren't housed in gestational crates, and predicts 100% of its pork will be sourced from pregnant sows kept in groups instead of crates by 2024.
- Icahn is a billionaire but only holds 200 shares of McDonald's stock, per the company's release, translating to a stake of about $50,000.
Despite Icahn's accusations that McDonald's never delivered on its 2012 crate-free pork commitment, the Golden Arches describes his demands as a request for new commitments.
The company also asserts "the current pork supply in the U.S. would make this type of commitment impossible" and argues that it doesn't reflect veterinary science used for large-scale meat production and could harm the chain's ability to offer "high quality products at accessible prices."
McDonald's claims that its 2012 commitment has sparked change in the meat supplier space, citing that 30% to 35% of U.S. pork production now uses group housing systems instead of crates for pregnant sows.
The company also claims Icahn hasn't asked Viskase — a company that manufactures and supplies pork and poultry packaging — to adopt similar pork commitments despite his majority ownership of the company.
The Irish Times reports the Humane Society of the U.S. is frustrated with McDonald's implementation of pork welfare practices.
"McDonald’s in 2012, in working with Carl Icahn and the Humane Society of the US, pledged to eliminate gestation crates," Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society, told the publication. "Instead, they are allowing pork producers to still confine pregnant pigs for six of the 16 weeks of their pregnancy."
Icahn's daughter, Michelle Icahn Nevin, used to work for the Humane Society.
This squabble over pork welfare comes as McDonald's deepens its investment in vegetarian offerings. In January, the chain announced it would expand its McPlant menu item to roughly 600 stores beginning Feb. 14 after a successful test at eight stores in 2021. BTIG predicts McDonald's won't reach a nationwide rollout of the product until 2023 because of the company's size.