In 2020, we dismantled more cruel cages on factory farms and set new records for egg-laying hens

We have made remarkable progress in our work to end cruel cage confinement of farm animals during 2020. As a result, millions more animals around the world will no longer face lives of abject misery in tiny cages and crates on massive factory farms that treat them as products and not as sentient beings.

Here are some of the year’s most significant farm animal protection victories, where the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International led the way:

  • We successfully waged a campaign in Colorado to pass a law banning the extreme confinement of egg-laying chickens and the sales of eggs from such cruelly confined chickens.
  • Our litigation group thwarted court challenges from the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute to California’s Proposition 12, the strongest farm animal protection law in the world.
  • We audited the animal welfare commitments of 90 of the country’s largest food companies and introduced our  Food Industry Scorecard to measure their progress and, most importantly, to pressure companies to keep their animal welfare commitments. Among the highlights:
    • Ahold Delhaize, the country’s fourth-largest grocery company, announced its decision to eliminate battery cages and gestation crates from its supply chain by 2025 or sooner.
    • PepsiCo (whose food brands use eggs) announced its plan to use exclusively cage-free eggs in the United States.
    • Jack in the Box—one of the nation’s largest fast-food chains— reached a whopping 77% of the way toward its cage-free goal and may reach 100% well before its 2025 deadline.
    • McDonald’s announced that it is 43% of the way toward its cage-free goal in the United States.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed that the egg industry is now 28.5% cage-free. That translates to over 90 million hens who will never suffer in a cage. Before we launched our cage-free legislative campaigns in 2008, only 3% of hens were cage-free.
  • As a result of our successful campaigns, Cal-Maine Foods, the world’s largest egg producer, announced a massive financial investment in cage-free facilities, committing more than $310 million to expand cage-free production.
  • Pork industry data shows that we’re getting more pigs out of cruel gestation crates too. More than a quarter of all mother pigs in the United States are now at least in reduced-crate housing systems, which means at minimum they can spend several months outside of cages during each pregnancy cycle. We continue to work toward ensuring they never spend any time in gestation crates at all.
  • Globally, Humane Society International obtained new commitments to abandon cruel cage confinement from iconic brands and market leaders, including more than a dozen national and multi-national companies around the world. These commitments, expected to change the lives of nearly 10 million hens, include:
    • Melia Hotels International, the world’s 17th largest chain, which promises to achieve a cage-free supply chain by 2025.
    • Levapan, the third largest mayonnaise and baked goods manufacturer in Colombia, which aims to go cage-free by 2025 in all seven countries in which it operates.
    • In Brazil we secured commitments from major players in every tier of the egg supply chain, including AM PM Mini Market and Grupo Pão de Açúcar (GPA), Brazil’s largest franchising and supermarket chains, Grupo Mantiqueira, the largest egg producer in South America, and AB Foods (Brazil) South America’s leading egg processor.
    • In Chile, we won commitments from Pizzeria and Tratoria Otra Cozza and Sueños del Sur, a bed and breakfast in the city of Puerto Varas.
    • In South Africa, City Lodge Hotel Group and Hotel Verde committed to going 100% cage free by 2025.
    • Dairy Farm International Holdings, a leading pan-Asian retailer, committed to move away from cage confinement, and to phase out eggs from caged hens for their own brand offerings in retail stores in Hong Kong and Singapore and for egg offerings in its 10 IKEA restaurants in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
    • Peninsula Hotels (with hotels in Hong Kong, China and the United States) announced they will use only cage-free eggs by 2025.
    • In India, the Ambala School of Hotel Management committed to transition to cage-free eggs and replace 30% of current menu offerings with plant-based alternatives by 2022.
    • In Canada, A&W committed to contract with suppliers that raise pigs in open housing by 2021.
  • HSI secured more than a dozen new commitments from public and private institutions and companies to transition at least 20% of their animal-based meals to plant-based offerings, including the Brazilian cities of Botucatu and Americana that have committed to shift their public-school districts’ menus towards more plant-based items. These commitments will impact more than 2.5 million meals a year.
  • HSI India continued to successfully defend a high court decision to prohibit any new construction of battery cage facilities in the country, a tremendous achievement since India has among the largest number of chickens in the world. Also in India, new environmental regulations will forbid egg farms with more than 100,000 hens from categorizing themselves as a “green industry,” which would exempt them from environmental regulations.
  • We continued to see major global hotel, retail and food processing chains implement cage-free and crate-free commitments, including Barilla (its global operations) as well as Hyatt Regency in Mexico City, Costco and 100% Natural in Mexico. In India, Marriott hotels maintained their commitment to beginning the transition to cage-free egg production, as did Maple Leaf in Canada (which is now 77% crate-free).
  • Working with the Singapore-based DBS Bank and Chew’s Agriculture, we advanced progress on sustainability linked loans as a strategy to support producers’ transition to cage-free.
  • From India to Canada to Brazil and Mexico, HSI teams planned and executed more than 50 virtual plant-based trainings, cooking demonstrations, or panel discussions on plant-based cooking, reaching more than 3,000 chefs, institutional cooks and culinary students around the world.

The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, underscoring the public health risks associated with industrialized animal agriculture. Our legal team filed a lawsuit aimed at mitigating the risk of future pandemics by going after the government’s subsidizing of extreme confinement practices. We released an HSI report on the connection between animal agriculture, viral zoonoses and global pandemics, which included recommendations for governments and corporations across the globe, including reducing reliance on animal proteins and the number of animals raised for food.

Our work to educate consumers, corporations, restaurants, and governments about plant-based alternatives produced strong gains in 2020, too. Today meat substitutes are being sold at supermarkets alongside meat, public schools and city governments are embracing meatless lunches, and more and more people around the world are trying out and adding plant-based foods to their diets.

Our 2021 agenda will be still more ambitious, as we’ll expand our work to bring corporations, governments and people further along the pathway to a truly humane society. With seven billion hens and 70 million pigs confined in cages around the world, we have no time to lose. We’re counting on your continued support, as always, and we look forward to sharing even more successes with you in the months to come.

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