More than half of the 47 global companies that have made public commitments to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens have reported progress in moving towards this target.
This is one of the key findings of the fifth annual EggTrack report, compiled by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), an NGO, that aims to end the use of cages in agriculture.
According to the 2021 report, 156 of 219 (71%) tracked companies are reporting progress against their cage-free commitments—up from 63% in 2020. Of the 47 companies with global commitments, 26 (55%) reported progress against these commitments, and since last year, an additional 12 companies have expanded their commitments to cover their entire global egg supply.
In Europe, legislation is also nudging producers towards changing their methods of production. The decision by the European Commission to phase out cages for all farm animals across the continent by 2027 was taken in June. following a public campaign and petition called End the Cage Age, lead by CIWF, in coalition with 170 NGOs, which gained 1.4 million signatures from EU citizens, and support from 11 leading European companies including Unilever, Barilla Group, Mondelēz International, Jamie Oliver Group and Nestlé.
An increasing number of producers are are making commitments. For example, the largest Italian and leading egg producer in Europe, Eurovo Group has now committed not only to phase out cages for laying hens across its Italian owned farms, but to phase out combination systems too.
While momentum for cage-free egg production is growing in key markets like Europe and the US there are also signs of change in other markets including South America and Asia. Global companies such as Subway, Burger King, Sodexo, Compass Group, Nestlé, Accor Hotels, Metro AG and Marriott International have made cage-free pledges that cover Asia, while in South America, the region’s largest egg producer, Mantiqueira, with approximately 10.5 million laying hens, committed at the end of 2020 to halt the construction of any new caged facilities.
This is not the case everywhere thought. There is a rise in caged production in some emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and South Africa.
Dr Tracey Jones, Global Director of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming said: “The landmark decision by the European Commission to phase out cages for all farm animals across the continent by 2027 has set the tone for cage-free egg production across the globe and we are already witnessing a rise in global commitments as corporate cage-free sign-ups ripple out to other regions.”