• Famous Brands, the owner of Steers, WimpyDebonairs, and Fishaways, says it will complete the withdrawal of plastic straws from all its outlets in December.
  • But consumer pressure around the use of cage-laid eggs will take a lot longer to show results.
  • The goal is to be free of cage-laid eggs by 2025, the company says, but getting there will be tricky.

By this December it will have replaced all plastic straws at all its outlets across South Africa and the United Kingdom with paper alternatives, fast food company Famous Brands said on Monday morning.

But it will take considerably longer to act on the other big area of consumer activism it is currently facing: cage-laid eggs.

In an announcement on its interim results, the owner of brands such Wimpy and Steers says it is "sensitive and responsive" to campaigns where consumers "are driving awareness of environmental issues and demanding that their preferred brands follow suit."

As a result of such pressure, it's move to biodegradable paper straws is almost complete.

But while it is "fully committed" to the "worthy cause" of moving away from cage-laid eggs, doing so is not simple, Famous Brands said. It is currently studying if it can secure a sufficient – and consistent – volume of cage-free eggs to meet its demand, and how it can stay complaint with the law as it changes.

It is committed to the change, the company said, but also recognises that it will be a phased process.

"We support the goal to procure 100% cage-free eggs throughout our operations by 2025," it said.

A faith-based organisation launched a campaign around cage-laid eggs a year ago, and has recently held regular protests outside a Wimpy store in Cape Town with placards of a Wimpy breakfast labelled "cruelty special".

A related petition that calls out Famous Brands for failing "to end its support of farms that confine hens in tiny, filthy cages" launched in September had not reached its target of 500 signatures by Monday morning.

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