A new poll carried out by Compassion in World Farming has found that 75% of the British public are willing to pay more for eggs produced from hens that are not kept in cages.
The survey also found that more than a quarter of the British public are unaware that cages are still used to house egg laying hens in the UK. Three quarters of those surveyed are willing to pay more for a carton of 6 eggs to ensure they are cage-free.
In 2015, Compassion in World Farming carried out an extensive investigation into the egg laying hen industry across Europe. Filming in France, Italy, Czech Republic and Cyprus, Compassion discovered the horrific conditions that millions of hens are subjected to – spending their entire lives closely confined, standing on wire mesh floors or slippery perches, and never seeing the light of day.
Although battery cages we made illegal across the EU in 2012, after decades of campaigning by animal welfare groups including Compassion in World Farming, the law allowed conventional cages to be replaced with so-called ‘enriched’ versions. Whilst ‘enriched’ cages are an improvement on the barren cages, they still do not permit hens to carry out their natural behaviours.
In almost every farm Compassion visited in its investigation, the conditions inside the ‘enriched’ cages were so cramped that hens were barely able to spread their wings. In some farms the perches, which are meant to simulate a tree branch for roosting, were barely a few centimetres off the ground.
Nearly 20 million laying hens in the UK are currently kept in ‘enriched’ cages, like those seen in Compassion’s investigation, which fail to meet even their most basic needs.
Although some UK retailers, such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and The Cooperative Food, stopped selling eggs from caged systems some years ago, this system is still used in the whole egg supply chain for a number of UK retailers including Lidl and Asda.
James West, Senior Campaigns Manager at Compassion in World Farming said: “Cages are outdated and have no place in modern agricultural systems. Our survey shows that British consumers are willing to pay more for eggs that aren’t from caged hens, so it’s time for all retailers to take note and phase out cages for good.”
Notes to Editor
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,688 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 19th July 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).