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Compassion urges Bargain Retailers to go cage free

News Section Icon Published 14/11/2019

Compassion is urging the UK’s three largest bargain retailers - Poundland, B&M, and Home Bargains - to follow the example of all the UK’s major supermarket chains and commit to sell only cage free eggs.

Since 2015 there has been a tidal wave of food businesses across the globe pledging to go cage free and improve the lives of millions of hens. This sea-change has largely been driven by consumer demand. 

According to a 2018 YouGov Survey, animal welfare is a significant concern for UK shoppers, with 81% of the public believing cages are cruel and over two thirds (67%) feeling that this method of farming is outdated.

Despite this, the bargain retailers are continuing to swim against the tide by failing to make a cage free commitment.

There are still around 16 million UK hens that are confined in cages every year; with insufficient space or enrichment to allow them to carry out natural behaviours such as perching, pecking and dustbathing.

Many of the companies that have made cage free egg commitments recognise that caged systems for laying hens are outdated, unwanted by consumers, and do not deliver a good enough quality of life for hens. Now is the time for the bargain retailers to get on board.

Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion said: “By failing to commit to cage free eggs, the bargain retailers are undermining all the hard work of those businesses that have signed up for a cage-free future. We urge Poundland, B&M and Home Bargains to rethink what they are stocking - cages have no place in modern day agriculture and the power to change it is in their hands.”

Converting to cage free?

For those companies that have made cage-free egg commitments, Compassion is encouraging them to ensure their cage-free conversions are fit for purpose and future proofed.

While Compassion advocates organic and free-range systems, we realise that for value eggs, barn systems are a popular choice.

The new barn standard recently announced by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) offers a raft of welfare improvements and comes well ahead of the retailers’ 2025 cage-free commitment deadline, allowing producers to invest with confidence in well designed, aviary systems.

We’ve worked closely with the BEIC and are fully supportive of this new barn standard. It significantly improves on weak legislation that otherwise permits the use of high stocking densities and highly intensive systems such as Combi systems.

The BEIC and Compassion are working together to ensure that the new standards are adopted not only for retail shell eggs, but also for egg products, including those used as ingredients.

To find out more about the different elements required for fit for purpose cage-free housing read our resources and watch our latest video here.