Industry News | March 26, 2010

Subway Joins Cage-Free Crowd—In A Big Way

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) scored a big victory this week when it announced a commitment from Subway to eventually use 100 percent cage-free eggs.

The commitment comes on the heels of Subway’s announcement that it will roll out a breakfast menu.

Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director for the factory farming campaign at the HSUS, says there is no timetable yet on when Subway will reach 100 percent cage-free usage, but that the sandwich chain will start by using 4 percent.

“They’re starting with 4 percent cage-free eggs, which we can safely say will spare tens of thousands of birds from life inside a cage,” Prescott says. “When they reach 100 percent, it will put that figure in the hundreds of thousands.”

Other quick-serve chains have agreed to switch to using cage-free eggs, including Burger King, Wendy’s, and CKE Restaurants. Subway is the first to commit to using 100 percent cage-free eggs.

“It’s part of a growing trend of, not just companies starting to use cage-free eggs, which really started with Burger King in 2007 as far as major corporations go, but now we’re seeing this is a trend to do 100 percent,” Prescott says.

“Subway is the first [quick-serve] chain to commit to 100 percent, but in other sectors, just even over the last few weeks we’ve seen this.”

Prescott says other foodservice companies that have switched to 100 percent cage-free eggs include Unilever, in it’s Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise, and Walmart, for its brand-name eggs.

Because Subway has more units in the U.S. than any other restaurant chain, an immediate switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs would be impossible.

“What Subway is doing, the reason why they’re starting with 4 percent and then moving to 100 percent over time, is to give their egg suppliers time to catch up to the demand,” Prescott says. “If they said today, ‘We want to do 100 percent starting tomorrow morning,’ they wouldn’t be able to get it.”

By Sam Oches