Today, (24 January) Compassion launched its latest global EggTrack report which shows that food companies are focused on providing a cage-free life for egg-laying hens, despite the ongoing challenges from avian influenza, inflation, the pandemic, and war in Ukraine.
It’s now time for policy makers to get on board, to reinforce and support this positive action by introducing legislation to underpin the end of cages.
This plea is particularly pertinent to the EU where the European Commission is yet to deliver its promised ban on the use of cages for farmed animals, a measure supported by 9 out of 10 European citizens.
EggTrack is designed to monitor, track and encourage the world’s largest food businesses to successfully achieve their voluntary cage-free egg commitments, as clearly the real impact for laying hens comes only when companies progress with their transition and actually fulfil their commitments.
EggTrack 2023 - The Results
EggTrack 2023 monitors the progress of 715 cage-free commitments made by 444 companies, with 511 (71%) reporting on progress, and an average 75% transition to cage-free.
Nine companies, including Delaware North, Associated British Foods and Norwegian Cruise Line, made new global cage-free commitments, and The Hershey Company reached its goal of becoming 100% cage free globally since our last report. Of the 88 global commitments tracked, 56% are reporting on their transition progress.
At a regional level, the average transition to cage-free eggs in Europe was 80%, in the USA it was 73%, and in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, which only began to be monitored EggTrack 2022, an average transition rate of 57% was achieved.
Despite the average overall year-on-year transition falling by 2.5% for commitments tracked in both the 2022 and 2023 iterations of EggTrack, cage-free transition at a global level increased by 6.9%, and 7.4% for companies in the APAC region.
- EggTrack 2023 monitors the progress of 715 cage-free commitments made by 444 companies with an average 75% transition towards cage-free
- 9 companies made new global cage-free commitments: Associated British Foods PLC, Bakkavor Group PLC, Brinker International Inc, CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc, Dairy Queen, Delaware North, McCormick & Company, Norwegian Cruise Line and The JM Smucker Company.
- 7 companies reached their goal of being cage free (at either global, regional or national level): The Hershey Company (who achieved global cage-free status), Gruppo Eurovo (Italy), KFC (Europe), Kraft Heinz Company, CVS, Walgreens (USA) and Burger King (Australia & New Zealand).
- Average transition for companies featured in both EggTrack 2022 and 2023 at a global level increased by 6.9%.
- 21 companies have clear statements against the use of combination systems within their supply chain: Aldi (Spain), Aldi (Italy), Grupo Avícola Rujamar, Mercandona, E.Leclerc, Metro AG, Gruppo Selex, MARR SpA, Makro (Netherlands), Sammontana SpA, Chef Express, Domino’s Pizza Group plc (UK & IRL), Coles Group Ltd, Barilla Group, Alcampo, Eurovo Group, Kroger, Carrefour (Poland & Spain), Bidfood (UK), Bennet, Eroski
Progress by Region and Sector
Of the 444 companies included in EggTrack 2023, the most progress has been made by the Manufacturers sector and least by the Food Service & Hospitality sector.
Average Transition by Sector
In terms of regional analysis, the most progress towards cage free has been achieved in Europe, followed by the USA.
Average Transition by Region
A Proper Transition to Cage Free
Compassion urges companies to be 100% cage free throughout their global supply. That means their commitments should cover ALL regions in which they operate and include ALL egg categories such as shell eggs, egg products AND egg ingredients. The good news is that more companies are expanding their commitments and increasingly reporting across all egg categories this year.
Companies should also avoid investing in inadequate cage-free systems such as combination and limited access systems. This year, 21 companies have clear statements against the use of combination systems within their supply chain including Domino’s Pizza Group PLC (UK and IRL), Bidfood (UK), E.Leclerc and Mercadona.
Compassion encourages companies to develop roadmaps outlining their implementation plans and speed up their rate of transition to cage-free, working with their suppliers, and to publicly report their progress on an annual basis.
Legislation needs to catch up!
The progression demonstrated by food businesses reflect consumer concerns for animal welfare and with extensive scientific evidence backing the need for cage-free production, it’s now time for policy makers to reinforce and support the positive action the food industry is taking by introducing cage bans.
Such legislation would broadly reflect consumer attitudes, as demonstrated by the 1.4 million EU citizens who signed the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens Initiative in 2020, and the 2023 Eurobarometer in which 91% of Europeans believe that protecting the welfare of farmed animals is important, with 84% saying these animals should be better protected than they are currently. It would also support the views of the scientific community that backs the need for cage-free production – as is outlined in a series of EFSA opinions.
Compassion's Global Director of Food Business, Tracey Jones concludes: "The voluntary commitments and continued progress highlighted throughout this report clearly demonstrate that food companies are focused on providing a cage-free future for egg-laying hens.
"Cages are unwanted by consumers, 1.4 million of whom signed the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens Initiative submitted in 2020, resulting in the European Commission committing to ban cages for all farmed animals by 2027.
"Europe holds a unique opportunity to lead the way on animal welfare. By responding to its citizens with a ban on cages and supporting businesses in their transition, the European Commission has a momentous opportunity to create a level playing field across industry and send a strong message to the rest of the world that cages should be consigned to the history books for good.”