Few restaurant chains ever achieve the sort of meteoric growth that Popeyes has enjoyed these last two years. We could reiterate the reasons for that success, but you already know the answer is “chicken sandwiches.” (Will fish sandwiches soon be part of the winning formula, too? Time will tell.) But in addition to tweaking its menu offerings, Popeyes plans to improve its food in other ways heading into the 2020s. A press release this week detailed the chain’s plans for further change.
By the end of 2021, Popeyes will, according to the press release, remove “antibiotics important to human medicine from their chicken supply chain in the US and Canada.” This is a step forward in terms of animal welfare, as the use of antibiotics in poultry production is a controversial practice that does cause chickens to grow faster, but can lead to increased antibiotic resistance in the humans that consume them. Also by the end of this year, the chain will phase out all foam drink cups and replace them with paper ones.
Next year, the company aims to focus on real ingredients and remove “colors, flavors and preservatives from artificial sources” (including MSG) from its fried chicken products—starting, of course, with the Popeyes chicken sandwich. These changes will be in effect by the end of 2022.
By the end of 2025, 100% of the eggs used in Popeyes’ menu will be cage-free—at 99% of its locations. It’s still working on sourcing cage-free eggs in markets outside of North America, Western Europe, and Latin America, but it hopes to shift to all-cage-free in those locations by “the end of 2030 or earlier.”
This is all an interesting look at how slowly the gears of big business can grind. Any initiative that can contribute to animal welfare, however slightly, is at least better than the alternative. Although, speaking of alternatives, maybe the best move is for all of us to eat slightly less meat?