Activist investor Carl Icahn is pushing for a shake up of McDonalds’ pig sourcing policy as he looks to end the practice of keeping pregnant pigs in small crates in the fast food giant’s supply chain.
McDonald’s said on Sunday said that billionaire investor Icahn, who holds 200 shares in the firm, had nominated two members to stand for election to its board of directors at the firm’s next annual general meeting as he looks to end the pig storage practice in its supply chain.
It comes after Icahn previously attacked the firm’s treatment of animals used in its products and described it as “obscene”.
Icahn has insisted on new McDonald’s commitments, including requiring all of the company’s U.S. pork suppliers to move to “crate free” pork, and set specific timeframes, the company said.
But McDonald’s has pushed back on the demands, saying the move would be impossible given the current supply “and would harm the company’s shared pursuit of providing customers with high quality products at accessible prices”.
McDonald’s pledged in 2012 to source pork from producers who do not use small crates to house pregnant sows, and Icahn pushed for the change behind the scenes, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
“Since making this commitment, McDonald’s has led the industry, and today an estimated 30%-35% of U.S. pork production has moved to group housing systems,” the statement from McDonald’s said.
McDonald’s also hit back at Icahn who owns a majority stake in packaging firm Visake which supplies the pork industry, noting he has not pushed for similar change.
“Mr. Icahn’s ownership provides him with unique exposure to the industry-wide challenges and opportunities in migrating away from gestation crates,” the statement said.
“Thus, it’s noteworthy that Mr. Icahn has not publicly called on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those of McDonald’s 2012 commitment.”