Panera Pledges To Move To Only Cage-Free Eggs By 2020, Wants You To Eat More Plants

As consumers continue to lean toward food options they see as healthier and more sustainable, Panera Bread is touting updates to animal welfare program. One big pledge the soup and sandwich chain is making: it’ll use only cage-free eggs in its supply chain by 2020.

Panera noted that out of the 70 million shell eggs, hard boiled and liquid eggs it served in its restaurants in 2015, 20% of those were cage free. The move to entirely cage-free will encompass all egg products it uses — hardboiled and liquid egg whites included — in sweet goods, souffles and dressings.

The move comes about a month after Starbucks also pledged to go cage-free by 2020, as the industry continually tries to keep up with what others are doing to lure health-conscious customers.

Along with the egg changes, Panera wants its customers to chow down on more plants, pushing its new plant-based protein options.

“We know that guests are increasingly seeking plant-based proteins for personal health reasons and/or to reduce their environmental impact,” said Sara Burnett, Panera’s director of wellness and food policy, in a news release. “To that end, we have been adding plant-based proteins like edamame and organic quinoa to our pantry of ingredients.”

It might not seem sexy or exciting to the average meat-eater, but focusing on plant-based proteins is a strong move, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

“It’s the first national chain that I’m aware of that’s ever said that,” Josh Balk, senior food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States told Fortune. “It’s hugely significant.”

Now that Panera has come out in favor of plant-based proteins, don’t be surprised if other chains follow suit, he adds.

“Plant-based is the next big issue,” Balk said. “We’re at a tipping-point for plant-based foods.”

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