UK - Supermarket chain Tesco has said it will stop sourcing any eggs from caged hens within ten years.
The deadline for the transition is 2025. According to the retailer, 43 per cent of the 1.4 billion eggs it sells each year come from hens in enriched colony cages, whilst the remainder come from barn, free range or organic systems.
The move comes after discount supermarket chain Aldi made a similar move in June, sparking concern from the National Farmers Union (NFU) that retailers would overlook the considerable investment farmers made in moving away from battery cages to enriched colony cages.
Matt Simister, Tesco’s Commercial Director for Fresh Food, commented: “We carried out an extensive and collaborative review with our suppliers and key industry experts to help us work through how best we can move to 100 per cent cage-free eggs.”
Tesco’s largest supplier of eggs, Noble Foods, was supportive of the move in Tesco's press release. Managing Director Veli Moluluoat said: “We have already started investigating new methods of egg production, and the commitment from Tesco to move away from enriched colony production in a manageable timeframe gives us the confidence and ability to invest for the long term.”
Philip Lymbery, CEO of welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming, said: “I hope that this will be the catalyst needed for all other UK retailers to follow Tesco’s lead and phase out cages for good.”
Transitioning to cage-free eggs has become a runaway trend in North America, the difference being that currently about 90 per cent of the hens on US and Canadian egg farms are housed in battery cages. It is unclear whether farmers will be able to make the transition quickly enough to supply all the affected retailers and restaurant chains with cage-free eggs within their stated timelines.
You may also be interested in today's article from Treena Hein, discussing public trust in agriculture.