Mar 29, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Icahn’s pig fight hits Kroger

These days it's all about the piggy bank. A large pig and a small bull.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Activist investor Carl Icahn has nominated two directors to the board of the supermarket chain Kroger and voiced animal rights concerns over its supply chain and use of gestation crates in pork production.

Why it matters: The move extends Icahn’s animal-welfare campaign to another part of the food industry, more than a month after he launched a proxy fight with McDonald’s over the treatment of pigs used in its pork products.

  • Icahn, who put forth potential candidates on Tuesday, first approached Kroger late last week to discuss his intentions, the company said.

What he's saying: “Kroger’s inaction towards creating meaningful animal welfare policies and verification methods is totally out of step with consumer desire and current legislation,” Icahn said in a letter to the company.

  • His candidates have superior knowledge and experience related to animal welfare and “other ESG weaknesses,” he added, referring to environmental, social and governance issues.
  • Icahn also took issue with the Kroger's wage gap, accusing the company of “flagrantly side-stepping financial obligations to workers who don’t make a fair wage.”

The other side: Kroger said it prioritizes ESG matters and regularly consults with animal welfare groups and suppliers on animal rights.

  • Kroger said it has committed to a framework that calls for all of its suppliers to shift away from gestation crates by 2025.

Flashback: In February, Icahn similarly nominated two board members to McDonald's, demanding the fast food giant end the practice of keeping sows in confined spaces.

  • McDonald’s fired back, arguing that the "current pork supply in the U.S. would make this type of commitment impossible."

What’s next: Kroger said it will review the suggested nominees and present its own recommendations in a proxy statement at the company's annual meeting with shareholders. A date hasn't yet been announced.

Go deeper