Supermarket Morrisons has been stripped of an animal welfare award by campaign group Compassion in World Farming.

Compassion announced on Tuesday (4 September) it had taken the “unprecedented step” of stripping Morrisons of its Good Egg award, following the supermarket chain’s decision to introduce eggs from caged hens under its own-brand M-Savers range.

Compassion’s director of food business, Steve McIvor, said: “We are shocked that Morrisons is taking this backward step. It is a negative decision, not only for laying hens, but also for consumers and for Morrisons’ reputation.

“Consumers do not like caged egg production and CIWF shares this view. We awarded Morrisons a Good Egg commendation in good faith and would encourage Morrisons to reverse this decision and get back on the right track.”

But the supermarket has hit back saying the welfare campaign group has got it wrong.

A Morrisons’ spokesman said CIWF had misunderstood the situation, insisting that the retailer had only rebranded the cage eggs it had always sold.

“The only change we are making is to sell cage eggs under the entry price point M Savers brand rather than under a different brand name,” the spokesman said.

“This allows us to take greater control of the egg supply chain. It also puts us in the best position to respond to customers on a budget while improving control of animal welfare.”

It is understood that 45% of Morrisons egg sales are cage eggs. Given the recessionary climate, the past 12 months have seen an increase in cage egg sales across the retail sector, with free-range and organic losing market share.