Carl Icahn loses fight for McDonald’s pig rights

May 27, 2022 — Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, who entered into a confidential battle with McDonald’s board to raise animal welfare standards for small crate pregnant pigs, has been defeated by a majority vote.

Icahn, who owns 200 shares of the fast food giant, launched a proxy battle with him last February over the treatment of pigs, appointing two members to the board of directors in a bid to advance animal rights policies.

In his effort, he pushed for a director’s nomination to notify Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Gunzler to run for election at the 2022 McDonald’s annual meeting.

Rising against golden arches
Icahn received the support of only 1% of the shareholders who voted for his two candidates.

Last month, the 86-year-old said in a public letter: “At this stage in my career, I feel it is my duty to engage in constructive activities to help correct the gross injustices perpetuated by the many ineffective boards and management teams that lead America’s leading public corporations.”

Icahn received the support of only 1% of the shareholders who voted for his two candidates.The billionaire was inspired by his daughter, an animal lover who previously worked for the Humane Society, to take on the fast food giant.

McDonald’s condemned Icahn’s claims as unfounded. “McDonald’s provides approximately 1% of U.S. pork production and does not own sows, produce or package pork,” the statement said.

A decade ago, McDonald’s publicly pledged that by 2022 it would be responsible for sourcing pork from suppliers that don’t use maternity counters. By the end of the year, the company expects to receive from these suppliers between 85% and 90% of its pork, as well as all purchased pork. from these suppliers by 2024.

“Despite the progress McDonald’s has made on our commitment to sourcing from manufacturers that do not use gestating sow crates, Mr. Icahn has demanded new commitments. They include requiring all McDonald’s U.S. pork suppliers to switch to boxless pork and setting specific deadlines for doing so.”

Shareholders call to reject nominations
Earlier this month, McDonald’s urged shareholders to reject Icahn’s nominations.

“Mr. Icahn is using a narrow question in which we have shown industry-leading progress—the 2012 McDonald’s Pork Commitment—as a reason to change the way McDonald’s purchases US pork and reduce the number of meats on our menu. “, the company said.

“The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) definition of ‘no crates’ is so vague that it represents an extremely niche market, accounting for less than 0.1% of US pork production. This creates a supply problem. What Mr. Icahn is demanding from McDonald’s and other companies is completely unrealistic.”

Current estimates indicate that McDonald’s will need at least 300 to 400 times the number of animals kept in “cage-free” systems today to keep our supply chain running.

“It also presents a cost issue. Today, McDonald’s is paying a surcharge for purchasing pork for groups in line with our 2012 commitment. Finding suppliers in this niche market, as suggested by Mr. Icahn, his nominees Maisie Gunzler and Leslie Samuelrich, and HSUS, would add significantly to these costs, putting a burden on all aspects of our business, our supply chain and McDonald’s customers, while this is not widely supported by industry experts.”

The fast-food restaurant chain claimed that the change in operations would result in “an unsustainable financial burden” for customers.

The voting results were preliminary, they are still awaiting the final count of votes.

Benjamin Ferrer

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