Can consumers afford their own demands?

AP Photo/Seth Perlman: Patrons enjoy a meal at a Burger King in Springfield, Ill., on Aug. 24, 2010. Burger King announced Wednesday that all of its eggs and pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs by 2017.


Hear ye, hear ye! Burger King has started to jump on the socially conscious bandwagon with their recent announcement that they have decided to forego meat and animal products that grew up in a cage.

We’re excited, right? First it was pink slime, now it’s bye-bye animal cruelty from one of the biggest meat-buyers in the country. Animal lovers across the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief, and celebrating this next victory.

According to National Geographic, the health benefits of cage-free, pasture-fed animal products is pretty clear. Lower in cholesterol and higher in the good stuff like vitamins and omegas. And it’s easier on the environment, which I know I didn’t think about until I read it. But it makes sense. If you put too many animals in close quarters (humans included!), we are not talking healthy or sanitary conditions.

But what remains to be seen is the domino effect at the register. I mean, really, have you tried buying cage-free or free-range animal products? It isn’t exactly cheap.

I, myself, have recently made the switch over to buying cage-free eggs at the market. It’s kinder to the animals, and overall healthier for you with more Omega 3’s. It was a conscious decision I made to upgrade to a kinder, healthier animal product. But it’s also nearly twice the price of regular eggs. I don’t eat through enough eggs in a week for it to weigh on my pocket as much as it would families; never mind food industry businesses like bakeries, or restaurants like Burger King.

Cage-free: Better for the animal, better for you, and better for the environment. But not everyone is willing to pay the extra $1.50 for it at the Fry's where I shop. Will BK's going 'cage-free' drive up prices of their products? And will people notice?

Fast food restaurants like Burger King and McDonald’s have been a monster success because of their fast, convenient, cheap food. But then again, have you checked their food prices lately? I remember just recently dropping in a McDonald’s to grab a salad (the only place in town I could grab one that was close by one day I’d forgotten my own lunch), and I think I was stunned by the prices. Course, last time I’d really patronized MickyD’s was probably high school (over 10 years ago). What was perhaps 3 or so dollars was now double the price for a burger and fries. Goodness gracious.

And that’s due to just normal inflation.

The healthy-minded, food conscious populace probably don’t make up the majority of these chains’ clientele, either, but have clamored for change. The majority who do eat there, do so because it is cheap to feed a family, and aren’t really concerned about where the food comes from. Or maybe they will like the idea that Burger King is taking an interest in animal welfare and health benefits of their food products.

But will they be smiling as brightly when those prices start to change?

With this new move in a new direction for Burger King, it will indeed be a ‘game-changer’ for the entire food industry, and how our food gets to our table.  Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork annually, AP reporter Traci Cone writes in her recent article. So, yes, it’s wonderful that they’ve made the step to be more socially responsible, but are we ready to pay the price?

Who knows, maybe for as much as they buy in bulk, these restaurants may receive a break in pricing. Maybe.
Or perhaps I’m just being a worry-wart.

3 thoughts on “Can consumers afford their own demands?

  1. Can I direct your attention to a 3-part documentary that was broadcast over here about two years ago? Heston Blumenthal took over an ailing Little Chef restaurant and changed its menu from mass-produced junk food to locally sourced, ethical and surprisingly CHEAPER than the old menu.

    It might give you some ideas about food production and sourcing. I doubt you’ll be able to view it over there but here is the link to Big Chef does Little Chef. You will probably find it around the intertubes somewhere.


    1. I watched these over the weekend (including the six-month follow up). Aside from how he attempts to change the approach of the staff at all levels, it does give an interesting insight into how businesses like Little Chef function, where they were, where they would like to be and where they are now.

      I think you could get a lot of material from this documentary about how restaurant chains and consumers approach food in general.


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