Sainsbury’s drops cage eggs in own brand food

Retail giant Sainsbury’s has announced that all eggs used for all its own-brand foods, as well as its shell eggs, now come from cage-free hens.

“From the basics range to the premium Taste the Difference lines, all products containing eggs are now cage-free, a move affecting 1,600 products, three million hens and an amazing 800m eggs,” said a company statement.

The move goes further than the guarantee given by the British Retail Consortium last autumn, which said that all its members would be using legal eggs only in their ingredients, though this could include eggs produced in enriched cages as well as non-cage systems.

Quoting figures from the Nielsen Homescan Panel, the supermarket says it is now the number one retailer for barn, free-range and organic eggs.

“We’ve now banned the use of eggs from caged hens from all of our own brand products – not only fresh eggs, but also as ingredients,” said brand director Judith Batchelar. “This means that, whether customers are buying cakes, sandwiches, ready meals, salad dressings or fresh pasta, they can rest assured they’re not compromising their ethics when purchasing outside the egg aisle.”

In 2009, Sainsbury’s was the first major retailer to stop selling shell eggs from caged hens. It also guarantees to source all its own label barn, free-range and organic eggs from UK farms, “specially selected for their commitment to raising hens in a more natural environment”.

Sainsbury’s now has 80% of the barn egg market, using these eggs to fill its basics range.

Alice Clarke, senior scientist from the RSPCA’s farm animals department, welcomed the move by Sainsbury’s to sell only cage-free eggs on such a large scale. “We are continuing to campaign to put an end to cage eggs as we work hard to improve the conditions in which all laying hens are reared in the UK. We hope that Sainsbury’s latest move pushes other retailers to enforce similar commitments and raise industry standards further.”

As well as cage-free barn eggs, Sainsbury’s continues to work in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Of every dozen Sainsbury’s Woodland Eggs sold, 1p is donated to the Woodland Trust. Since this partnership started in 2004, Sainsbury’s has raised £1.4m, helping plant 825,000 trees in local schools, on farms and in local communities.

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