Another Grocer Commits To Cage-Free Eggs

Another grocery store chain has committed to selling only cage-free eggs. Minnesota-based Supervalu announced plans to transition to selling 100 percent cage-free eggs at its network of 3,407 stores by 2025 or sooner if possible.

Cage-free eggs currently make up almost 12 percent of Supervalu’s retail eggs sales. The company, one of the largest grocery wholesalers and retailers in the country with annual sales of about $18 billion, will report annually on the progress toward its goal to sell only cage-free eggs.

Back in August, Supervalu announced that all of its Wild Harvest brand egg products would be cage-free by the end of 2015. Wild Harvest sells only cage-free eggs now.

Mark Van Buskirk, Supervalu’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and retail, said in a statement that the Wild Harvest brand was “a natural starting point for understanding customer interest and support for cage-free eggs.” He added that Supervalu offers other store brands that are 100 percent cage-free. “As the available supply increases, we will continue to expand our cage-free egg offerings,” he said.

The advocacy group Mercy For Animals (MFA) held discussions with Supervalu in advance of its latest commitment. The company’s decision to transition to cage-free eggs will be a positive one for the hens who live in small wire cages in which they can’t spread their wings, MFA points out in a blog post. Or as Matt Rice, MFA director of investigations, told Triple Pundit: “As one of the largest grocers in the country, Supervalu’s commitment to go cage-free in its egg supply chain will spare more than 1.5 million hens annually from suffering in tiny wire cages so small the birds can’t walk or even fully spread their wings for nearly their entire lives.”

It will take time for Supervalu to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs.

“Big changes like this take time to implement as egg producers retrofit their facilities to align with the Supervalu’s new animal welfare policy, but the company has pledged to work with its suppliers to speed up the timeline as much as possible,” Rice said.

Van Buskirk said that it will take time “because there is currently a limited supply of cage-free eggs.” He added that Supervalu “will continue to work with our suppliers to move as quickly as possible toward a sustainable, 100 percent cage-free egg supply chain.”

Supervalu has also committed to implementing other humane animal practices in its pork, dairy and chicken supply chains. “Our decision to move toward selling only cage-free eggs reflects our ongoing commitment to improving animal welfare practices across the industry,” Van Buskirk said.

The move by Supervalu to transition to cage-free eggs follows similar announcements by other grocery store chains, including Kroger and Albertsons. Consumers who “care about animal welfare and want to ensure that animals are not being tortured on factory farms are driving the trend to cage-free eggs” are driving the trend toward cage-free eggs, Rice said. “Supervalu are responding to consumers demand by requiring their egg suppliers do away with cruel cages that have no place in a civilized society,” he added.

Supervalu’s commitment will likely influence other grocery store chains to implement similar policies. “This forward thinking policy should also help encourage other grocers, like HEB and Publix, to take similar stands against such blatant cruelty to animals,” Rice said. “Any food company that has not yet adopted a cage-free egg policy is simply out of step with consumer expectations and business trends.”

More grocery store chains committing to selling cage-free eggs will indeed be a positive move for America’s hens, and for the consumers who care about them.

Photo: Flickr/Dano