Cara Foods commits its restaurant chains to serve cage-free eggs by 2020

TORONTO – Cara Foods, the owner of such restaurants as Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s and East Side Mario’s, will switch to cage-free eggs in its entire supply chain by 2020.

The announcement was made Thursday by the group Mercy For Animals, which said it collaborated with Cara Foods to develop the policy.

Restaurant Brands International (TSX:QSR), the parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King, took a similar stance on Monday to serve cage-free eggs at all locations throughout North America by 2025 amid pressure from customers for ethically-sourced food.

In the last year, Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and several other restaurants, retailers, food manufacturers and foodservice companies have pledged to go cage-free at the urging of consumers concerned about animal welfare.

Mercy for Animals president Nathan Runkle said the decision by Cara Foods (TSX:CAO) will reduce the suffering of countless hens each year.

The group says hens used for eggs are “crammed for life into tiny wire cages on factory farms” and each bird has less floor space “than the size of a sheet of notebook paper.”

Runkle said with this latest announcement, “the days are numbered for egg factory farmers who pack birds in cages so small they can’t walk, spread their wings, or engage in other natural behaviours.”

“Any food company that has not yet adopted a cage-free egg policy is simply out of step with consumer expectations and business trends,” he said.

Egg Farmers Canada has said it will take time for farmers to undergo a transition to cage-free production facilities.

On Friday, the group announced that its members have agreed to stop installing any new conventional housing and aims to switch to predominately alternatives by 2036, assuming current conditions prevail.

More than 90 per cent of the country’s roughly 1,000 registered commercial egg-producing farms currently keep their hens in conventional housing, but Egg Farmers Canada is aiming to lower that to 50 per cent by 2024 and 15 per cent by 2031.