McDonald’s Leading the Way: A Case Study in Chicken Sustainability


In recent years, the global conversation surrounding food sustainability has gained significant traction, with consumers increasingly demanding transparency and accountability from the companies they support. In response to this growing awareness, McDonald’s has taken proactive steps to address concerns regarding chicken welfare and sustainability through the establishment of the Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council (CSAC) and participation in key industry alliances such as the International Poultry Welfare Alliance (IPWA) and the U.S. Roundtable of Sustainable Poultry and Eggs.

Since its formation in 2018, the CSAC has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders including welfare experts, suppliers, academics, and NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund, to inform McDonald’s chicken welfare and sustainability strategies. One of the notable achievements stemming from this collaboration is McDonald’s commitment to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs in the U.S. by the end of 2025, a goal achieved two years ahead of schedule in 2023. This accomplishment underscores the effectiveness of partnerships and concerted efforts in driving industry-wide change.

Moreover, McDonald’s has extended its commitment to chicken welfare beyond egg sourcing by adopting a holistic approach to broiler chicken sustainability. In 2017, the company announced a global commitment to source chickens raised with improved welfare outcomes, outlining eight Broiler Welfare Commitments in key markets. These commitments encompass measures such as establishing and convening the CSAC, implementing third-party on-farm auditing, and providing enrichments to support natural behavior.

The comprehensive nature of McDonald’s approach to chicken sustainability has garnered praise from experts in the field, such as Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned animal welfare expert and researcher. Dr. Grandin commends McDonald’s for its multifaceted program, which encompasses welfare, environmental enrichment, and sustainability initiatives, positioning the company as a leader in corporate responsibility within the poultry industry.

Looking ahead, McDonald’s continues to drive progress in chicken sustainability, leveraging partnerships, innovation, and data-driven strategies to uphold its commitments and set new standards for the industry. By prioritizing animal welfare, environmental stewardship, and transparency, McDonald’s exemplifies how companies can play a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable and ethical food system for the future.