Leading food companies call on the EU to phase out the use of cages in animal farming

Leading food companies across the EU sent a joint letter to the EU Commission and Members of the EU Parliament on 17 March, calling for a phase out in the use of cages in animal farming, starting with enriched cages for laying hens.
calendar icon 17 March 2021
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ALDI Nord, Barilla Group, Fattoria Roberti (egg producer), Ferrero, Inter IKEA Group, Jamie Oliver Group, Le Groupement Les Mousquetaires (French retailer), Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and Unilever co-signed the letter which emphasises that the business case for phasing out enriched cages for laying hens is strong, particularly at EU level. It notes that “cage-free systems are widespread, economically viable, and provide better living conditions for hens”.

The signatories stressed that the revision of the animal welfare legislation, which is currently under preparation, is the ideal opportunity to end the use of cages in animal farming across the EU - starting with caged laying hens. They also stated: “we are ready and willing to share our expertise and collaborate on achieving that goal”.

“Many businesses are already ahead of the game, having phased out cages in their supply chains. A cage-free future is possible and is already being enabled by some progressive companies”, said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and Substitute Representative of the "End the Cage Age" European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).

The EU now needs to catch up and revise the legislation for farmed animals, Directive 98/58/EC, so that the cruel use of cages is brought to an end, for all farmed species.”

The letter commends the aims of the "End the Cage Age" ECI which calls for the end of cages in animal farming across the EU. Compassion in World Farming joined forces with 170 European NGOs and launched the "End the Cage Age" ECI on 11 September 2018. A year later it closed having gained 1.4 million verified signatures and becoming the first successful ECI on farmed animal welfare. Across the EU, over 300 million farmed animals are confined in cages every year.

Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming added: “It’s great to have these leading businesses supporting our call to phase out cages for laying hens across the EU, but given Brexit, we must maintain pressure on the UK government too.

“In the UK, all the major supermarkets have either ended the sale of eggs from caged hens or have committed to do so by 2025. We need UK legislation, however, to be in place to eliminate all caged production and to stop the import of eggs, particularly ingredient egg, from caged systems.

“We have a newly established good barn standard in the UK for laying hens and a high level of free-range production which we must support for both shell and ingredient eggs.

Owen Bethell, Senior Manager Environmental Impact, Global Public Affairs at Nestlé, said: “As a company that already uses 100% cage free eggs for our food products, we know it’s possible to phase out cages in a business-friendly way. We hope the End the Cage Age Initiative will help improve welfare for all laying hens in the EU.”

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