Egg Industry - November 2017 - 20
20 ❙ EggIndustry
US transition to cage-free eggs
by 2025 in question
Industry professional discusses the commitment of companies to sell
cage-free eggs by a certain date and what it may mean for the egg
Larry Sadler, Ph.D., recently named
the new vice president of animal
welfare for United Egg Producers
(UEP), discussed the commitment of
companies to sell cage-free eggs by
a certain future date at the 2017 Live
Production, Welfare and Biosecurity
Convention, on September 19 in
"229 grocery companies or food companies have
made cage-free commitments," Sadler said.
If those companies keep their commitment, that
would mean 223 million layers would need to be cagefree by 2025. That would cost industry producers $10
billion to convert housing systems currently used in
the U.S. "This change may not be reasonable with only
seven years to get there," said Sadler.
Of the commitments already made, 55 percent of
them come from the grocery store sector.
"That's a huge commitment for them to say we are
not going to have anything on the shelves anymore
other than cage-free," he added.
Some have posed the question: Will grocery stores
really keep their commitment? Sadler suggested that
he does believe restaurant chains are likely to stick to
their agreement of going to cage-free eggs.
According to the latest USDA estimates, current
non-organic cage-free hens housed represent only
9.3 percent of the U.S. total. For producers to meet
customer demands if the future purchase pledges
Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt, Freeimages.com
are acted upon, cage-free egg production would
have to get up to 72 percent within the next seven
years. "This is a very monumental thing for the industry," said Sadler.
Company policy going forward
Many of the companies did not give a definition
of what cage-free would mean. The UEP developed
a cage-free definition just this year. "I think a lot of
companies will latch onto this and say this is what I'm
looking at in terms of cage-free," he said. These guidelines can be found on the UEP website. Although UEP
just developed a definition this year, it has had cagefree standards since 2006.
Due to companies not defining cage-free eggs individually, it is unclear which housing systems will meet
their standards in the future, Sadler explained. The
UEP has identified five basic cage-free systems.
Meet Larry Sadler
Sadler has dual bachelor of science degrees in agwww.WATTAgNet.com ❙ November 2017