Farm Forward, a national animal-welfare nonprofit, has invited Burgerville to join its Leadership Circle, a program intended to leverage the buying power of institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. Burgerville is the first restaurant chain to receive this invitation.
“Burgerville is a leader in aligning values-based purchasing,” says Andrew deCoriolis, executive director at Farm Forward. “Through thoughtful procurement policies, they are improving the welfare of farmed animals while meeting their customers’ demands for more ethical and sustainable products.”
Farm Forward has a long history of working with farmers and consumers to help change the way animals are raised for food by promoting conscientious food choices that reduce farmed animal suffering and advance sustainable agriculture. Members of Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle have committed to purchasing only third-party certified higher-welfare products in at least one product category within two years.
Since 2007, Burgerville has been using eggs from chickens certified “Humane Raised and Handled,” which are given more space and access to perches and enrichments, allowing hens to exhibit natural behaviors. Burgerville’s current egg supplier, Wilcox Farms, meets Farm Forward’s criteria with its “Certified Humane” certification that ensures the laying birds are cage free. The hens are also fed a 100-percent vegetarian diet and are free of hormones and antibiotics.
In 2018, Burgerville used approximately 490,000 shell eggs and 40,000 pounds of liquid eggs; Burgerville’s commitment to buy Certified Humane eggs improves the lives of at least 3,350 hens per year.
“Burgerville has great respect for the work Farm Forward does on behalf of animal welfare and is honored to be the first restaurant invited to join Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle,” says Hillary Barbour, director of strategic initiatives at Burgerville. “Burgerville is elevating its responsibility toward the health and welfare of animals and the people who consume them. Our company was built on a tradition of serving fresh food made with local ingredients. Partnerships with farms and suppliers committed to animal, soil and human health are our future.”
Burgerville’s dedication to quality ingredients and transparency has also led to raising animal welfare standards for broiler chickens. By 2024, Burgerville has pledged to require its chicken suppliers to follow these guidelines for 100 percent of their products:
- Transition to breeds of birds approved by Global Animal Partnership (GAP) based on measurably improved outcomes.
- Reduce stocking density to a maximum of six pounds per square foot (per GAP standards) and prohibiting broiler cages.
- Provide birds enriched environments including litter, lighting, and enhancements that meet GAP’s new standards.
- Process chickens in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling and instead utilizes a multi-step controlled atmosphere processing system that induces an irreversible stun.
- Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing.
As part of its commitment to farmed animal welfare, Burgerville is also working on its beef supply chain, as well as offering plant-based vegan products like its Adzuki Bean Burger.