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Noble Foods - making cage-free eggs a commercial reality

News Section Icon Published 25/06/2020

Noble Foods, the UK’s biggest egg producer, has received a Good Egg Award from Compassion this year for their commitment to be 100% cage free by 2025. 

Working collaboratively with the British Egg Industry Council, Compassion and Tesco, Noble Foods helped develop a new higher welfare barn standard for UK egg production which was introduced in November 2019.

In the past year, the team at Noble Foods has worked hard, alongside their equipment manufacturer, Vencomatic, to convert one of their large enriched colony caged units to the new higher welfare aviary barn system, coupled with an identical pullet rearing unit.  Watch the video to find out more…

Converting to cage-free

Since 2016 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.

Starting in the US with McDonald’s (2015) these pledges rippled out across the US and in Europe over 1,000 companies from all food sectors have now made 2025 cage-free egg commitments.

This sea-change has largely been driven by consumer demand.  According to a 2018 YouGov Survey[1], 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with 81% of the public believing cages are cruel and over two thirds (67%) feeling that this method of farming is outdated.

The successful conversion to cage free depends on everyone playing their part, to make sure the systems developed can truly deliver the animal welfare benefits that consumers expect, and that the transition is paced to ensure the commitment deadlines are met.

It is highly likely that a large proportion of caged production will move to barn systems - particularly for the value egg market - and will involve converting existing buildings into multi-tier, multi-storey systems. 

There are a range of multi-tier and aviary systems on the market – from highly intensive combi systems to more extensive well-designed aviaries. Compassion has developed its guidance on fit for purpose cage free systems for laying hens - watch the video here...

Success factors for a cage-free supply chain

Companies that have yet to commit to cage free eggs are falling behind the curve and are undermining all the hard work of businesses like Noble Foods who are making cage-free egg production a commercial reality.

We encourage all companies to support a cage-free future by:

  1. Making cage-free your new baseline for both shell and ingredient eggs and publicising this commitment to your customers
  2. Engaging with your suppliers from the start and giving them the confidence to invest in new cage-free systems through long-term contracts.
  3. Ensuring you invest in the right system that is fit for purpose and future-proofed, by providing your suppliers with specific system design requirements (i.e. no combi cages). Read more here.
  4. Take the consumer on the journey with you - when your customers understand what cage-free really means for laying hen welfare, they are much more likely to choose higher welfare products on shelf. Marketing and promotion is an opportunity and a the key to success!

For further information read Compassion’s Laying Hen Booklet and Guidance for Multi-tier systems, as well as our other resources on laying hen welfare.

 

 

 

[1] YouGov Survey 2018: Total sample size was 2119 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 20th-23rd April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).