Denny’s Urged by Shareholders to Strengthen Commitment to Eliminate Pig Gestation Crates

Denny’s Corporation (DENN.O) faces a crucial shareholder vote at its upcoming annual investor meeting on May 15. This vote could compel the diner chain to establish clear targets for diminishing its reliance on pork from suppliers that use gestation crates for pregnant pigs. These crates tightly confine pigs, preventing them from even turning around.

The Humane Society of the United States, a Denny’s shareholder, initiated the proposal, highlighting a lack of significant progress by the chain in fulfilling its 2012 pledge to phase out gestation crates. Despite its initial commitment, Denny’s has not reported any substantial advancements towards this goal over the past decade, nor has it set specific targets to achieve it.

This proposal has gained the backing of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a prominent proxy advisory firm known for its influence on how shareholders vote on pressing issues. According to ISS, this is the first time Denny’s has received a proposal that specifically addresses the disclosure of group-housed pork percentages in its supply chain and the phasing out of gestation crates. ISS’s analysis places Denny’s behind five competitors, including Cracker Barrel and IHOP’s parent company, Dine Brands, in terms of transparency and action towards reducing dependency on suppliers that use these restrictive crates.

In stark contrast, The Cheesecake Factory reported that 73 percent of its pork supply was free from gestation crates by the end of 2023, with a plan to completely eliminate such crates by 2025.

Despite the mounting pressure from shareholders and advisory firms, Denny’s board recommended against the proposal in an April 4 proxy filing. The board argued that the requirements set forth by the proposal would be redundant and inefficient, commenting that the pork supply industry has not progressed as expected.

As the annual meeting approaches, the outcome of this shareholder vote could set a significant precedent for animal welfare standards within the food industry, particularly concerning the ethical treatment of livestock.