Starbucks will switch to using only eggs laid by cage-free chickens at its North American locations within five years, the company told Reuters on Thursday.
The company said it has been steadily working on making the switch since it began buying cage-free eggs in 2008.
The pledge follows similar moves by McDonald's Corp, Burger King Corp and food services company Sodexo SA. It is happening as North American egg suppliers are slowly starting to rebuild flocks after the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history.
"While there is still work to be done across the industry to increase supply to address market conditions, we are committed to working with our suppliers toward our goal to be 100 percent cage-free by 2020," Starbucks said in a statement.
Cage-free eggs are produced by hens free to moved around inside a barn, as opposed to conventional eggs produced by hens that are packed in cages with other bird.
The overall shift to phase out eggs laid by caged hens is expected to increase competition for limited supplies of cage-free eggs. It carries higher costs that may, at least initially, sting farmers.
Starbucks set the 2020 deadline last Friday, when it updated its "Animal Welfare-Friendly Practices" on its company web site, a company official said.
The Starbucks updated practices document can be found here.