Panera plans transition to cage-free eggs

by Eric Schroeder
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Panera breakfast sandwich with eggs
Panera Bread Co. plans to move to 100% cage-free eggs by 2020.

ST. LOUIS — Panera Bread Co.’s commitment to transparency is reaching new levels as the bakery-cafe plans to move to 100% cage-free eggs by 2020, 100% gestation-crate free pigs by the end of 2015, and a menu without antibiotics.

Ron Shaich, Panera
Ron Shaich, founder and c.e.o. of Panera

“For more than a decade, we’ve been working to reduce antibiotic use and confinement across our supply chain,” said Ron Shaich, founder and chief executive officer of Panera. “We are honored to have been recognized as one of the two best performing national restaurant companies in an independent report on antibiotics usage and transparency in September. While there is more work to be done, we are within reach of a menu without antibiotics and unnecessary confinement. We are committed to transparency, which means sharing where we are and where we plan to go. We encourage other companies to join us by transparently sharing their progress.”

As part of the commitment, Panera detailed objectives on several fronts.

First, the company said it intends to move to 100% cage-free eggs in U.S. Panera Bread and St. Louis Bread Co. bakery-cafe food menus by 2020. This will include shell eggs, hard boiled and liquid egg whites in addition to those used in sweet goods, soufflés and dressings, a total of more than 120 million eggs system wide annually, according to Panera.

Currently, Panera said it is at 21% cage-free relative to the approximately 70 million shell eggs, hard boiled and liquid egg whites prepared in cafes in 2015. Panera defines cage-free hens as those raised in indoor barns that allow full range of movement.

Panera sandwich with bacon
Panera expects that by the end of the year its entire pork supply will be gestation-crate free, raised without antibiotics and fed a vegetarian-only diet.

Secondly, Panera expects that by the end of the year its entire pork supply, approximately 7 million lbs, will be gestation-crate free, raised without antibiotics and fed a vegetarian-only diet.

Also by the end of this year Panera said 100% of its chicken and 100% of its roasted turkey will be raised without antibiotics.

Finally, Panera continues to increase the amount of beef cattle that is grass fed, free range. By the end of 2015, Panera said it will have served more than 4 million lbs of beef and 89% will be grass-fed, free range. Panera defines grass-fed beef as beef that is sourced from cattle able to roam freely and graze in pastures for the entire life cycle.

Sarah Burnett, Panera
Sara Burnett, director of wellness and food policy at Panera

“We know that guests are increasingly seeking plant-based proteins for personal health reasons and/or to reduce their environmental impact,” said Sara Burnett, director of wellness and food policy at Panera. “To that end, we have been adding plant-based proteins like edamame and organic quinoa to our pantry of ingredients, so all guests can eat well the way they want.”

Panera joins a growing list of companies shifting to cage-free eggs. Earlier this year McDonald’s said it will fully transition to cage-free eggs for its nearly 16,000 restaurants in the United States and Canada over the next 10 years, and Dunkin’ Donuts is making a move to transition to 100% cage-free eggs globally and source only gestation crate-free pork in the United States by 2022.
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