Walmart Will Switch To All Cage-Free Eggs By 2025

Image courtesy of PepOmint

With competitors like Target and the Kroger and Albertsons families of supermarkets pledging to sell only cage-free eggs, Walmart apparently didn’t want to be left behind. The mega-retailer announced today that by 2025, all of the eggs it sells in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will come from hens that were not raised in individual cages.

“Our customers and associates count on Walmart and Sam’s Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised,” the company’s chief sustainability officer, Kathleen McLaughlin, said in a statement.

The reason for the timetable of almost a decade is that farms supplying millions of eggs can’t just pull out all of their cages overnight. Not only do retailers have long-term supply contracts in place, but the suppliers also need to invest time and money in changing their barns to cage-free hen housing.

If every farm in the country switched to cage-free, and if consumers no longer bought eggs produced that way, then Walmart will switch over earlier: they have set a date of 2025, but that could change “based on available supply, affordability and customer demand.”

Animal welfare advocates see the announcement as historic, and an indicator that retailers and consumers are taking animal welfare more seriously. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a blog post today that while a clear turning point happened when McDonald’s announced that it would phase out conventionally raised eggs, Walmart’s announcement is important in animal welfare history. “The trajectory of this debate is clear,” he writes. “The era of confining hens in cages in America’s food system is officially sunsetting.”

“This is a historic tipping point,” David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League, one of the groups that worked with Walmart on the cage-free initiative, said in a statement. “With this commitment it is clear that industry leaders and consumers alike support the notion that cages will soon be completely in the past.”

Once the change is made, it may benefit animals and stores’ bottom lines alike: cage-free eggs sell at a higher price now, though that may not be the case as they become the default egg type sold in mainstream stores and served up in fast-food restaurants.

Walmart U.S. Announces Transition to Cage-Free Egg Supply Chain by 2025 [Walmart]
Breaking News: Walmart, the Nation’s Biggest Food Seller, Says No to Cage Confinement for Hens [Humane Society]