CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons/Bidgee
Woolworths, the largest chain of supermarkets in Australia, will not be offering eggs from battery hens in its stores anymore. This is in line with the company's environmental commitment for sustainability and the reduction of carbon footprint, which includes animal welfare.
Woolworths will start phasing out caged hen eggs in 2013 and by 2018, the company will only sell eggs from free range hens.
The grocery store chain's home-brand products will also remove caged eggs from their ingredients.
This bold move will affect 12 suppliers of battery hen eggs and increase the prices of eggs.
A survey by Australian consumer organization group Choice on the cost of free-range eggs showed that "majority of respondents said that it's essential or important to them that the eggs they buy are free range and that they're willing to pay extra for the label."
Animal rights groups including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been lobbying against battery hens and Woolworths' decision will be commended.
Aside from eggs, the treatment of chickens used for Woolworths' meat will abide by the minimum standards of the "RSPCA Approved Farmer Scheme Standards for Layer Hens," including sufficient access to food, water, ample space and "freedom from fear, pain, distress and discomfort."
In 2009, Woolworths started labeling its eggs as caged, barn-laid and free-range. 70 percent of all the eggs sold at its stores were caged eggs. The number went down to 50 percent in 2013.
Woolworths Select free-range eggs will also contain information about the company's chicken stocking density of 10,000 chickens per hectare. The recommended chicken stocking density for free-range eggs is 1500 birds per hectare.
Owned by Woolworths Limited, Woolworths started operating in Sept. 1924 as a basement store on Pitt Street in Sydney, Australia. It has stores not only in Australia, but also in New Zealand.
In 2007, the company introduced its Sustainability Strategy to address climate change.
Woolworths just celebrated its 89th year in business in Sept. 2013 and its 26th year as Australia's Fresh Food People.
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