Compassion urges UK’s top bargain retailers to go cage free

Compassion in World Farming 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.
calendar icon 15 November 2019
clock icon 4 minute read

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 has been across all sectors, not just retail with many popular restaurant chains including Frankie & Benny’s, Café Rouge and Pizza Express pledging to go cage free by 2025 too.

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 percent of the public believing cages are cruel and over two thirds (67 percent) feeling that this method of farming is outdated. Despite this, the bargain retailers are resisting the calls for change and are continuing to swim against the tide by failing to make a cage free commitment, endangering a cage free future for all UK hens.

Today (November 14) Compassion is calling on its supporters to contact Poundland, B&M and Home Bargains to persuade them to take action. 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 Many of the companies that have made cage free egg commitments recognise that caged systems for laying hens are outdated, unwanted by consumers, and do not deliver a good enough quality of life for hens.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.”

For those companies that have made cage-free egg commitments, Compassion is urging them to ensure their cage-free conversions are fit for purpose and future proofed. While Compassion advocates organic and free-range systems, the charity realises 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 forward thinking producers to invest with confidence in well designed, aviary design systems.

Dr Jones concludes: “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 new standard will not only deliver better welfare for hens but will help create a level playing field for producers converting out of cages before the 2025 deadline.”

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.

For more advice on cage free egg production and supply, contact CIWF.

[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+).

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