Photo: Brett Jordan
American financier Carl Icahn is widely known for his aggressive campaigns to overhaul Corporate America. Currently, he is grasping another matter dear to him: the welfare of pigs.
On Sunday, McDonald’s disclosed that Icahn had put forward two additional directors to its board. According to the fast-food chain, the move “relates to a narrow issue regarding the company’s pork consumption.”
“I really do feel emotional about these animals and the unnecessary suffering you put them through,” said Icahn last week in an interview. “A pig has a good brain, and it’s a feeling animal.”
Icahn has formerly aimed for specific firms, including Yahoo, Dell, and Netflix. The objective was to earn a lot of money from those cases.
His most recent campaign covers urging McDonald’s to demand its entire pork suppliers, which are based in the US, to stop from confining pigs in super tiny crates that they can’t move or even turn around.
According to McDonald’s, Icahn bears only 200 stakes in the company. The share would be just above $50,000 as of Friday’s closing price.
The fast-food behemoth has initially guaranteed in 2012 to slowly eliminate the use of the crates—known as gestation stalls—for sows that are pregnant.
It said Sunday that by the last months of 2022, 85% to 90% of its US pork would come from sows that are not quartered in gestation stalls. And by the end of 2024, it envisions making it up to 100%.
The giant has rejected Icahn’s proposal, which has demanded “for new commitments,” such as exclusively sourcing “crate-free” pork.
McDonald’s said, “While the company looks forward to promoting further collaboration across the industry on this issue, the current pork supply in the US would make this type of commitment impossible.”
It continued that the company sources 1% of US-produced pork and does not own any of the sows.
McDonald’s also pointed out that it is “noteworthy” that Icahn is a principal shareholder of Viskase, which manufactures and supplies the pork industry’s packaging; however, he has “not publicly called on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those of McDonald’s 2012 commitment.”
Icahn has said in an interview that he plunged on the issue, seeing as McDonald’s “never delivered” on its commitment a decade previously.
He said, “We’re not going to fool around with them anymore.”