Yesterday, Walmart, the largest grocer in the US, announced a commitment to switch to 100% cage-free eggs by 2025. This is a momentous move – improving the lives of many millions of hens.
Despite being owned by Walmart, ASDA, the second largest supermarket in Britain, has yet to commit to phasing out cages for hens.
Since McDonald’s US made a commitment to go cage-free with its eggs back in September, we have seen a ripple effect across America and Canada leading to many more announcements from other food businesses.
As the largest retailer in the US, Walmart’s commitment to only sell whole eggs from cage-free hens will have a far-reaching impact beyond America. This groundswell of corporate commitment to phase out cages for laying hens, is for the first time pushing the US ahead of the UK in animal welfare standards.
Although barren battery cages are outlawed in the EU, enriched cages are still legal, and used in the supply chain for whole eggs of a number of UK retailers including Tesco, Morrison’s, Aldi and Lidl, as well as ASDA. There are over 35 million laying hens in the UK, 40% of which are kept in enriched cages. While a step up from barren battery cages, the enriched cage still does not allow for the very basic natural behaviors which are central to the welfare of hens. The US is bypassing the use of enriched cages and moving straight to cage-free systems, unlike the EU.
Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming, says: “It’s bewildering that a subsidiary of an American company with a cage-free egg commitment, based in a country known for its leadership on farm animal welfare policies, has yet to make its own cage-free pledge.
“If the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, can rid its supply chain of eggs from caged hens, there is simply no excuse for companies in any country to not follow suit.
“I urge ASDA, and all other retailers in the UK and Europe still selling eggs from caged hens, to come out of the cage age and commit to going cage-free.”