There is no doubt that an era of cage-free eggs is coming.
The recent tidal wave of cage-free commitments started in the US with McDonald’s and Walmart, and quickly spread to the UK where an extraordinary summer saw Tesco’s pledge to use only cage-free shell eggs by 2025 trigger a raft of similar commitments from other UK retailers and foodservice companies.
The question now must be: is Europe ready for the cage-free revolution?
Early signs are already in place. McDonald’s and Subway have for some time been using only cage-free whole eggs in their outlets across the European Union.
Leading Italian food service company, Camst, committed to go cage-free on both shell eggs and egg product by 2025 in September, while back in April, retailer Monoprix - a subsidiary of the Casino group in France - announced its decision to withdraw caged whole eggs entirely and permanently from all of its stores.
In Germany and the Netherlands, ALL retailers have now banned shell eggs from caged systems in their stores, and many are already working towards introducing cage-free egg ingredient across their supply chains.
Recent global commitments by international contract catering firms Sodexo and Compass Group to be cage-free on both whole and liquid eggs by 2025, will of course impact European production.
Smart brands are capitalising on their cage-free credentials to engage consumers. Monoprix’s marketing campaign highlighted that they had ‘broken up’ with caged eggs.
French food manufacturer St Michel has produced some fun materials on the benefits of free-range eggs including a recent advert for their brand of madeleines and biscuits featuring a hen so free range that she travels the world! Watch the ad: stmichel.fr/cotcotcot
The cage-free egg revolution will continue to gain momentum in Europe as consumers exert increasing pressure on food businesses and as market forces continue to shift the landscape towards cage-free production.
To help egg producers start the transition over to cage-free systems Compassion has produced a laying hen booklet which gives clear, practical advice on the key features of higher welfare systems for laying hens.
Cages of any kind are fundamentally inadequate for hen welfare, and Compassion firmly believes that they will soon be entirely obsolete.
To avoid falling behind, food businesses across Europe need to focus on ensuring future-proofed investment in new cage-free systems so that they are ready to cope with – and capitalise on - the imminent and inevitable cage-free revolution.