Sharing Progress on our Cage-Free Egg Commitment
April 11, 2019
Meet The Forsmans, a 4th generation family egg farm, working hard to help make this change.
Today, McDonald’s USA announces that we are making significant progress towards our commitment to source 100% cage-free eggs by 2025. Our egg supply chain is now 33% cage-free, and we will source more than 726 million cage-free eggs for our McDonald’s U.S. restaurants in 2019.
Big change is always a challenge, but when it’s the right thing to do, you roll up your sleeves. That is especially true for the Forsman Family.
“It’s in our blood. It’s what we do,” says owner Gary Forsman, father of Dave and Peter, who represent the third and fourth generations to manage the farm. Additionally, Gary’s daughter Katie and her husband run a company that produces the egg flats for the millions of cage-free eggs Forsman Farms supplies to McDonald’s USA each week. The whole family, including many of Gary’s grandchildren, support the family farming business in Howard Lake, Minn.
Given their deep commitment to the farm, it’s perhaps understandable that the Forsmans were initially hesitant when one of their biggest customers proposed to significantly shift the way they do business: in 2015, McDonald’s USA announced its commitment to source 100% cage-free eggs by 2025, representing 2.2 billion+ eggs a year.
“As a family we sat down and said, ‘Are we going to be able to do it?’ We had zero cage-free systems and we knew this was going to be a big challenge,” says Peter Forsman, who along with his brother David, manages the farm’s day-to-day operations.
But uncertainty turned into hard work as the Forsmans consulted with other farmers, and poultry and cage-free specialists across the industry to learn best practices and change their operations. In fact the Forsman’s built “a whole new farm” to get it right, Peter says, overhauling their facilities and completing the transition to cage-free for their McDonald’s business in about three years.
In a cage-free farm, chickens are housed in an open environment that Peter calls “an aviary jungle gym.” Multiple levels, different compartments and platforms allow birds freedom and choice in expressing their natural behaviors such as perching, dustbathing, jumping and flying.
Each McDonald’s supplying egg farm has an attending veterinarian who helps lead training and education for the staff to ensure a high level of care.
Egg supplier Cargill credits McDonald’s with providing support and resources for producers along the way as they tackled this large operational shift.
“McDonald’s works hard to know its supply chain well and understand the challenges producers face,” says Kristin Tupa, egg sustainability lead at Cargill. “This is important because together we are literally creating the supply of cage-free eggs.”
The benefits are apparent, Peter adds. “As we’ve moved forward in this journey, we’re proud to farm in a way that’s good for the birds, that makes our staff proud of the work they do, and results in a product consumers love. We’re really proud to be a supplier for McDonald’s and we hope to continue our family tradition for generations to come.”
Learn more about our cage-free progress by checking out our Infographic below.