Carl Icahn targets McDonald’s for pig welfare

McDonald’s (MCD) said Sunday that Icahn had named two new directors to its board. The move “relates to a narrow issue regarding the company’s commitment to pork,” the fast-food chain said in a statement.
“I am truly moved about these animals and the needless suffering you put them through,” Icahn said in an interview with Bloomberg last week. “A pig has a good brain and is a sensitive animal.”
Icahn, who served as the inspiration for the larger-than-life character Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street,” has previously targeted companies such as Yahoo, Dell (Dell) and netflix (NFLX). The goal in these cases was to make more money.

His latest campaign is to push McDonald’s to require all of its US-based pork suppliers to abandon the practice of keeping pigs confined to crates so small they cannot turn around.

Icahn said he only owns 200 shares of the company, according to McDonald’s. The stake would be worth just over $50,000 based on Friday’s closing price.

McDonald’s first promised in 2012 to phase out the use of crates, also known as gestation stalls, for pregnant sows.

On Sunday, he said that by the end of 2022, 85% to 90% of his American pork will come from sows that are not housed in gestation crates. It plans to reach a goal of 100% by the end of 2024.

The company pushed back on Icahn’s proposal, which it said “asked for new commitments,” including exclusive sourcing of “crateless” pork.

“While the company looks forward to promoting increased industry collaboration on this issue, the current pork supply in the United States would make this type of engagement impractical,” McDonald’s said.

McDonald’s sources 1% of the pork produced in the United States and does not own sows itself, he added.

The company also said it was “remarkable” that Icahn is the majority owner of Viskase, which manufactures and supplies packaging for the pork industry, but has “not publicly called on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those of McDonald’s in 2012.

Icahn told Bloomberg that he got involved again because McDonald’s “never delivered” on its commitment a decade ago.

“We’re not going to have fun with them anymore,” he said.


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