A feud over McDonald’s treatment of pigs is heating up, with Carl Icahn, a disgruntled billionaire investor, proposing two board nominees.
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.
He claims to own 200 shares, putting him in the minority.
McDonald’s uses pork in various products, and Mr. Icahn has called the way the animals are raised “obscene.”
The American chain, according to Icahn, uses suppliers who keep pregnant pigs in small crates, a practice he believes is cruel.
According to the firm, he had instructed all of McDonald’s pig suppliers in the United States to transition to “crate-free pork” within deadlines he had established.
“While the Company looks forward to supporting future industry engagement on this subject, the current pork supply in the United States would make such a commitment unachievable,” the company added.
Back 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 almost a third of US pig producers switching to group housing methods.
By the end of the year, it expects to source 85 percent to 90 percent of its pork from these suppliers.
By 2024, all of the pork it purchases will come from these sources.
Icahn was also the majority owner of Viskase, a company that creates packaging for the hog and poultry industries, according to the chain.
He had “not publicly called” on Viskase to make similar commitments, according to the statement. Mr. Icahn did not react to a request for comment from the BBC right away.
According to Forbes, Mr. Icahn has a net worth of $16.8 billion (£12.3 billion) as the founder and majority shareholder of Icahn Enterprises.
Before departing down 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 compelled to respond, despite his little investment,” Mak Yuen Teen, a professor at Singapore’s NUS Business School, told the BBC.
“McDonald’s appears to have taken a long time to fulfill this goal, which was made ten years ago. It’s only now that activists are openly addressing it that it’s speeding up the process.”
McDonald’s claims to source only around 1% of pigs produced in the United States, and that it does not own any sows, produce, or package pork in the country.
The board will assess Mr. Icahn’s choices “like it would any other contender,” according to the statement.