Wal-Mart announced Mar. 5 that it would no longer sell eggs produced by caged birds in 2025. The sale of such eggs will be phased out while cage-free eggs will replace them on the retailer’s shelves.
Wal-mart is the largest U.S. retailer to make such an announcement and actually giving a deadline for the change. The company is the largest food retailer in the U.S. owning a quarter of the market share.
The company said that its business partners would need to make a switch to cage-free hens and have their activity tracked by a third-party. The decision will affect the retailer’s 5,000 U.S. locations, Sam’s Club warehouse stores included.
Wal-Mart unveiled its plan to move to cage-free eggs last spring when it also said that it would have to persuade its egg suppliers to adopt ‘five principles’ that ensure hens have enough space to move, are properly fed, and are not mentally distressed.
Wal-Mart is not the first to make such change. McDonald’s said that it will eliminate caged-eggs from its ingredients by 2025 and Burger King said that it will switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs next year.
Animal welfare experts believe that Wal-Mart’s decision may be a game-changer which could mark the end of the caged birds. Animals advocates are confident that the company’s size and influence would surely make a difference.
The Humane Society recently told reporters that the decision would likely benefit more birds than any similar move in the history of animal protection. Wal-Mart added that it has first introduced free-range eggs in its stores in 2001.
The egg-industry now needs to comply with the changes and invest more money in facilitates that allows birds to roam freely and lay eggs. According to animal protection groups, just 6 percent or 18 million hens live currently in cage-free conditions in the U.S.
In battery cages, each bird has at its disposal only a cage space the size of a letter paper, experts explained. Caged birds cannot even spread their wings, and are under a lot of stress when laying eggs.
Caged birds are denied many natural actions such as nesting and dustbathing. Furthermore, caged hens often have to crawl beneath other hens to search for a good spot to lay their eggs.
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