NEW YORK CITY, NY – Despite supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and producers continue to make progress on their commitments to source eggs from cage-free hens, according to the fifth annual EggTrack report released by Compassion in World Farming.
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 116 companies with U.S. or North American commitments, 61% are reporting on their progress, with their supply chains now standing at an average of 71.43% cage-free. The reporting is compared to the national U.S. cage-free flock size of 28.6% in August 2021—up from 25.1% in 2020 and 10.1% in 2016—according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Far from halting progress towards a cage-free future, the pandemic provided companies with an opportunity to ensure their sourcing policies were in line with their public commitments and continued making strides on animal welfare issues,” said Ben Williamson, U.S. Executive Director, Compassion in World Farming. “Although we’re pleased that more companies are reporting on progress, the rate of transition to cage-free will need to more than double to meet the 2025 commitment deadline set by a majority of companies.”
Twelve companies reported meeting U.S. or North American commitments this past year, including B.GOOD, Caribou Coffee, Compass Group, Gelson’s Markets, Arby’s, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Pret A Manger, TGI Fridays, and The Fresh Market. Whereas eight companies—including Elior Group, Epicurean Feast Cafés, and Spectra—have missed U.S. or North American commitment deadlines, with five of these—Aramark, Black Bear Diner, Delaware North, Sodexo, and The Hershey Company—continuing to make and update on progress made against those commitments despite having missed their deadlines.
“The Hershey Company understands the importance of using responsibly sourced ingredients in our products, including cage-free eggs.” Bethany Fitzgerald, Director of Responsible Sourcing, is quoted as saying in the EggTrack report, among other corporate executives. “We are proud of the progress we have made against both our original U.S. commitment and our subsequent global commitment that we will reach by 2025, working with our sourcing partners to secure high-quality, reliable sources around the world. We are well on track to meet our 2025 global goal and will continue to share our progress with all our stakeholders as we move toward 100% across all our products.”
Cage-free eggs come from hens raised in barns, where they have space to turn around and stretch their wings, as well as places to perch, scratch, nest and take dust baths. By contrast, battery cages where most hens still live only give them space equivalent to the size of a sheet of paper and fail to provide an environment that allows for the expression of natural behaviors.
The report also highlights the risks of “combination” and “limited access” systems, which are marketed by manufacturers as “cage-free” but have doors which can be easily closed—allowing a producer to switch back to caged production.
“Understanding what constitutes a true cage-free system is essential for making future-proof investments, ensuring a smooth market transition, and maximizing the welfare of laying hens,” continues Williamson. “Compassion’s food business team stands ready to work with companies to ensure that their customers’ expectations of their 100% cage-free goals are met.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, please email Ronnika.McFall@ciwf.org.
Compassion in World Farming launched EggTrack five years ago to track and encourage companies’ progress toward their commitments to transition purchasing to 100% cage-free eggs. The report is intended for use by conscious consumers, industry stakeholders, and those in business responsible for the day-to-day implementation and decision-making processes needed to achieve cage-free goals, namely buying teams, executives, supply chain managers, and sustainability experts. The report includes an interactive website that displays the progress of each company compared to its competitors. Follow the cage-free conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at #EggTrack. To learn more, visit www.eggtrack.com.
About Compassion in World Farming:
Compassion in World Farming is a global farmed animal protection organization that campaigns peacefully to end factory farming and replace it with a food system that is compassionate, fair, and sustainable for all. The charity is dedicated to reforming a broken food and farming system and introducing a more humane, fair, and sustainable one. Compassion engages with the world’s leading food companies to create and adopt meaningful animal welfare policies while tracking progress against those commitments to ensure compliance. It works tirelessly towards a better future for animals, people, and the planet by educating concerned consumers and supporting meaningful public policy. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe, in the US, China and South Africa. To find out more about Compassion in World Farming or join the movement, visit: ciwf.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.