Why Billionaire Carl Icahn Just Took A Huge Step Against McDonald's

Even if you have never heard of Carl Icahn, his presence may have had a larger sway over your life than you might imagine. According to Forbes, Icahn ranks as one of Wall Street's top investors and has influenced American corporate policy for some time. He even joined Donald Trump's administration in the first months of the former president's term and gave advice about "regulatory overhaul." Though this investor received a low score when it comes to his philanthropy, he has stepped up as an animal advocate. Icahn has a problem with McDonald's supply chain and apparently has for quite some time.

According to Bloomberg, Icahn plans to fight the home of the McRib over the business practice of keeping "pregnant pigs in small crates" that hinder their movement. Icahn's daughter made him aware of the gestation crates, and he advocated for the chain to stop using them. About a decade ago, he attempted to spur progress by contacting McDonald's on behalf of the Humane Society. The Golden Arches vowed to make U.S.-based pork suppliers implement a phaseout of the crates. According to Icahn, the company told him, it would get done in 10 years' time. However, he alleged that the company has not made good on its promise. Now, the billionaire plans another big move to force McDonald's hand.

A bold stance against small animal crates

The Wall Street Journal reports that Icahn has nominated two new board members for positions at McDonald's corporate headquarters amid efforts to pressure the chain to stop pork suppliers from using gestation crates. As of press time, the billionaire investor still expects McDonald's to do away with the crates, but in the meantime, the two nominees must now face standard evaluations before becoming corporate executives.

McDonald's responded to the Mc-flurry of criticism and action. The chain claimed more than 60% of the "confirmed pregnant sows" used for its products aren't placed in crates. Per BBC, it expects that by the end of the year, as much as 85% to 90% of its pork will come from suppliers that use "group housing systems." The goal is to reach 100% by 2024. However, McDonald's also didn't think Icahn was being reasonable in certain respects. Moreover, the company also pointed out that while Icahn only holds a scant 200 shares in McDonald's, he operates as the majority shareholder of Viskase, which supplies the packaging for pork and poultry. McDonald's notes that Icahn wasn't applying the same kind of public pressure in the name of animal rights.