The number of retailers, producers and suppliers that are making progress on their commitments to source eggs from cage-free hens continues to increase, a new report from Compassion in World Farming has found.
According to the group's fifth EggTrack report, some 156 of the 219 companies it tracks (71%) 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, it added, and since last year, an additional 12 companies have expanded their commitments to cover their entire global egg supply.
'Demise Of The Cage Is Inevitable'
“This year’s EggTrack has many positive messages that suggests the demise of the cage is inevitable," said Dr Tracey Jones, global director of food business, Compassion in World Farming.
"Despite the global pandemic continuing to deliver uncertainty and obstacles for the entire food sector, many companies have persisted in their efforts to go cage-free."
In June of this year, the European Commission announced its decision to phase out cages for all farm animals across the continent by 2027.
This move followed on from the End the Cage Age campaign, which was spearheaded by Compassion in World Farming and garnered 1.4 million signatures from European citizens.
Businesses such as Unilever, Barilla Group, Mondelēz International, Jamie Oliver Group and Nestlé also lent their support to the campaign, while many retailers, including Conad, Morrisons, Caprabo and Sainsbury's have also made cage-free commitments.
'An increasing number of producers are getting on board as confidence in the ongoing demand for cage-free eggs grows,' Compassion in World Farming said.
'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.'
Progress Outside Of Europe
The report noted that there is also progress being made on eliminating cage-free eggs in South America and Asia, with firms such as Subway, Burger King, Sodexo, Compass Group, Nestlé, Accor Hotels, Metro AG and Marriott International making cage-free pledges that cover the Asian market.
In addition, South America'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.
“Although cage-free production is rapidly becoming the baseline standard for shell eggs in Europe, there is still work to do in other parts of the supply chain," Jones added.
"All companies must now tackle head-on the issue of ingredient eggs, while those in emerging markets should be encouraged to move to cage-free production and reject combination systems which do not offer the same welfare benefits."