The cage-free movement in the UK is truly gathering pace, with several UK retailers and international companies making pledges to go cage-free.
International food service company Sodexo also announced this week that it will source only cage-free eggs worldwide by 2025.
This flurry of cage-free commitments follows a spectacular domino effect of similar announcements by leading supermarkets and other food companies in the US.
In April, Walmart, the largest grocer in the US, announced its commitment to switch to 100% cage-free eggs by 2025. However, despite being owned by Walmart, Asda, the third largest supermarket in the UK, has yet to commit to phasing out cages for hens.
Nearly 20 million laying hens in the UK are currently kept in cages, denying them some of the most basic behaviours and depriving them a life worth living.
Whilst the timelines are longer than we would like, all of us at Compassion very much welcome these pledges to phase out cages in favour of more humane, free-range and barn systems.
Large scale changes like these cannot be made over night and there are some legitimate obstacles that retailers need to overcome in order to phase out caged eggs. Time is needed for farmers to respond to this new demand, phasing out cages and building alternative systems.
Compassion congratulates Tesco, Aldi, Iceland, Morrisons and Sodexo for doing the right thing for laying hens. They join Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative, Waitrose and M&S, companies who have long banished caged eggs from their shelves and have been recognised by our Good Egg Award for their leadership.
Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business, says: “The announcements in the UK by Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Iceland are hugely welcome. These remarkable moves show how things have changed and how companies are increasingly willing to embrace animal welfare. This is truly the start of a monumental shift towards a cage-free future for all egg laying hens in the UK.
Compassion has worked to influence and educate food companies on animal welfare for decades and we will continue to work with these retailers to ensure the production system changes required to go cage-free will give hens a good quality of life in rich and stimulating environments.”