As consumers clamor for cruelty-free protein at the grocery store and in restaurants, big food is obliging them — hundreds of companies have pledged to sell only cage-free eggs by 2025, for example.
But has Corporate USA bitten off more than it can chew?
Producers are trying to create new housing for more than 300 million egg-laying hens across the U.S. — a gargantuan change that can’t happen overnight. Currently, the country is only about a quarter of the way to those commitments, according to Christine McCracken, a protein analyst at Rabobank, a Dutch lender specializing in food and agriculture. The Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University, meanwhile, uses USDA data to estimate that about 17 percent of output is now cage-free, including organics.
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