Today (17th March), ten major food companies sent a joint letter to the EU Commission calling for a phase out in the use of cages in animal farming, starting with caged laying hens.
The signatories, which included ALDI Nord, Barilla Group, Fattoria Roberti (egg producer), Ferrero, IKEA, Jamie Oliver Group, Le Groupement Les Mousquetaires (French retailer), Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and Unilever, stressed that the revision of the animal welfare legislation, currently in progress, is the ideal opportunity to end the use of cages in animal farming across the EU.
Supporting End the Cage Age ECI
Leading by example, Owen Bethell, Senior Manager Environmental Impact, Global Public Affairs at Nestlé, said: “As a company that already uses 100% cage free eggs for our food products in Europe, we know it’s possible to phase out cages in a business-friendly way. We hope the End the Cage Age Initiative will help improve welfare for all laying hens in the EU and lead to better welfare conditions for other farm animals in the future.”
The letter explains the viability and benefits of non-cage systems, while expressing support for the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Launched in collaboration with 170 environmental, consumer rights and animal protection NGOs from across Europe, the ECI urges the EU to phase out the use of all cages in farming.
Sharla Halvorson, Sustainability and Health Manager, Food at IKEA, said: “At IKEA, we are happy to join other leading food businesses and 1.4 million people in supporting the development of EU legislation to drive forward this sector-wide improvement - when we come together, large scale change is possible! We are committed to moving away from caged egg production by the end of 2025, and work continuously to improve animal agriculture and animal welfare through our Better Programmes.”
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and Substitute Representative of the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) added: “Many businesses are already ahead of the game, having phased out cages in their supply chains. A cage-free future is possible and is already being enabled by some progressive companies. The EU now needs to catch up and revise the rules for farmed animals, Directive 98/58/EC, so that the cruel use of cages is brought to an end, for all farmed species.”
Phasing out cages in the UK
In the UK, all the major supermarkets have either ended the sale of eggs from caged hens or have committed to do so by 2025. However, in order to eliminate ALL caged production we need UK legislation to be in place and government action to stop the import of eggs (particularly ingredient eggs) from caged systems.
We have recently established a good barn standard for laying hens in the UK and have a high level of free-range production. It vitally important that we support these higher welfare standards for both shell and ingredient eggs and continue to encourage cage-free production across the food industry.