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Fight Over Pig Policy In McDonald’s Supply Chain Escalates With Board Nominations

Fight Over Pig Policy In McDonald’s Supply Chain Escalates With Board Nominations
Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, has intensified his campaign against McDonald's over the treatment of pigs in the company's supply chain. Icahn, a Wall Street legend for shaking up firms, wants to appoint two persons to McDonald's' board of directors.
He only owns 200 McDonald's shares, but that gives him leverage to agitate for change, according to his animal welfare activist daughter. McDonald's claims to have paved the way for better animal welfare standards.
The dispute revolves around allegations that pregnant sows are held in cramped crates, a behavior Icahn called "obscene."
He claimed that McDonald's had failed to follow through on a pledge to stop sourcing meat from pigs kept in so-called gestational cages, a practice opposed by animal rights activists. Icahn had urged all of McDonald's pig suppliers in the United States to switch to "crate-free pork" within a series of timeframes.
According to a statement from the fast-food business, Icahn has requested that Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler run for election at the 2022 annual meeting. Activist investors like Icahn, who is one of a few dreaded corporate raiders who is claimed to have been the inspiration for Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street, focus on companies that they believe need to be restructured.
However, he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that his daughter, an animal enthusiast who has worked for the Humane Society, inspired him to do something at McDonald's.
In 2012, McDonald's vowed to stop acquiring pork from suppliers who confine pregnant pigs in crates. Since then, the company claims to have "led the industry," with nearly a third of US pig producers switching to group housing methods.
By the end of the year, it expects to source 85 per cent to 90 per cent of its pork from these suppliers. By 2024, these sources will account for all of the pork that the company will purchase.
In a statement released on Sunday, McDonald's said it will continue to work with the industry to enhance standards, but that some of Icahn's demands were excessive.
Icahn is also the majority shareholder of Viskase, which manufactures and distributes packaging for the pork and poultry industries, according to the company.
He had "not publicly called" on Viskase to make similar commitments, according to the statement. Icahn's response to the situation was unavailable.
Carl Icahn speaks at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City during a panel discussion.
According to Forbes, Icahn has a net worth of $16.8 billion as the founder and controlling shareholder of Icahn Enterprises.
Before departing amid controversy, he spent several months advising former US President Donald Trump on regulatory reform. However, many believe he is unlikely to succeed with the nominations.
"Icahn's profile means McDonald's feels a need to respond even though his stake is so small," Mak Yuen Teen, a professor at NUS Business School in Singapore, said. "It does seem that McDonald's has been rather slow in fulfilling this particular commitment made 10 years ago. It's only now that it's accelerating the fulfillment when activists are publicly highlighting it."
McDonald's stated that it only sourced about 1% of US pork production and that it did not own any sows, produce, or package meat in the United States.
The board would examine Icahn's choices "like it would any other contender," according to the statement.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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