Leading supermarket to stop selling eggs from caged hens

Sainsbury’s has announced that it is to become the first major retailer to stop selling eggs from battery hens.

The decision means that from 5 February 2009, 2.5m fewer battery farmed eggs will be on sale each week in the UK. It comes a year earlier than the supermarket had originally planned and three years ahead of government legislation that bans barren caged hens.

Sainsbury’s sells over 1.6m eggs every day, or 600m a year, with 28% sourced from its ‘caged basics’ range. From next month its entire own-label basics eggs range will come from chickens reared on Freedom Food-accredited barn farms, while its own label free range and organic eggs will be sourced from 202 UK Woodland farms.

Two pence from each pack of Woodland eggs sold will be paid as a premium to Woodland producers, although there will be no difference in retail price between them and standard free range eggs, Sainsbury’s egg buyer Finbar Cartlidge said.

“We’ve worked hard with our producers to deliver a range that continues to offer our customer’s great value for money, is 100% British and is improving welfare standards of over half a million hens each week. ”

NFU chief poultry adviser Rob Newbury welcomed the Sainsbury’s announcement. “As long as they’re British eggs, then it’s all good news. But if we get to a situation where they need to import welfare friendly products, then perhaps it suggests they’ve gone too early. We’ll have to wait and see.”

By 2012, the supermarket also aims to stop using caged eggs as an ingredient in its food and drink. Its Taste the Difference range already only uses free range eggs.