Burger King, the world’s second-largest fast-food chain is going cage-free. The Miami-based company recently announced its plans to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs and for eliminating gestation crates for breeding pigs. This change in the company’s policy could potentially have a significant impact on the egg market and make cage-free farms more attractive targets for agricultural investments. This type of farming has been considered somewhat risky, especially in the US, because of the high production costs and the small market for cage-free suppliers. But Burger King’s switch could prove to be pivotal for resolving those problems.
For once, the fast-food giant is a large egg and pork customer – it uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork annually – which alone could be enough to grow the market for cage-free production and put non-cage-free suppliers in a very disadvantageous position. In this situation more farms would be forced by the market to go cage-free too.
Another potential effect of the Burger King cage-free switch is that there could be a substantial drop in the production costs of cage–free eggs and pork. Large-scale purchases by big fast-food chains like Burger King can cause a price drop, which would make it easier for smaller restaurants to buy cage-free production too.
It remains to be seen whether other big fast-food companies will follow Burger King’s example, as no official statements are yet made. But with one fast-food giant already committed, it seems that cage-free farms are open for agricultural investments.