The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that it is now a shareholder with Apollo Global Management, parent company to Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s umbrella CKE Restaurants.
The HSUS hopes to use its position as shareholder to encourage the restaurant company to use more cage-free eggs and pork from pigs not housed in gestation crates.
Matthew Prescott, food policy director for the HSUS, says CKE was once at the front of this movement, but that it has since fallen behind the rest of the industry.
CKE rolled out an animal welfare policy a few years ago stating that it would purchase 2 percent of its eggs from hens not housed in battery cages and 15 percent of its pork from suppliers that don’t use gestation crates. However, several quick serves have since exceeded those goals, including Subway and its 2010 promise to phase in 100 percent use of cage-free eggs.
Prescott says CKE has been “open to hearing our concerns, but unfortunately, those conversations haven’t led to any purchasing changes for many, many years.”
“Our hope remains that we can resolve these issues with CKE behind the scenes privately,” he says. “We wanted to purchase the stock in case we’re not able to do that and we need to file a shareholder resolution or attend the company’s shareholder meeting to explain to its executives and its board members why it is that Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are behind the rest of the industry on this issue.”
CKE spokeswoman Beth Mansfield said in an e-mail that the company uses a third-party auditor to make sure it is staying true to its goals and that “at this time, we will continue to meet our stated goals.”
The HSUS is now a shareholder with about 40 restaurant companies, Prescott says. However, the organization mostly uses private communication to encourage companies to make changes, he says.
“While we don’t necessarily utilize our position as shareholder by submitting resolutions, the fact that we are shareholder has helped us form relationships with many companies that we may otherwise not have formed relationships with,” he says.
By Sam Oches