Countdown to go cage-free

CountdownCountdown is the first supermarket chain to go cage-free, following a widespread campaign by consumers and animal advocacy organisation, SAFE.

Woolworths, the Australian corporation who owns Countdown had already pledged to be cage-free by 2025 in Australia.

In New Zealand, Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have all pledged to go, or have gone, cage-free, along with several individual New World stores.

SAFE said the agreement to stop selling caged eggs by Countdown is part of a global revolution, as hundreds of companies move away from the outdated practice of caging hens.

“We’re delighted that Countdown has decided to listen to their customers,” said Mandy Carter, campaign director, SAFE. “This will make a significant difference for caged hens in New Zealand and shows the real power that Kiwis have to create positive change,.

“This is the beginning of the end of cage hen farming. No farmer with common sense would now invest in the new cruel colony cages.”

Whilst battery cages will be illegal in New Zealand from 2022, hens in the new colony cages spend their lives crammed into a wire cage with barely more space than an A4 piece of paper per bird. They cannot fulfil their natural instinct to scratch for food, dust-bathe or build a nest, and have to stand on a sloping, mesh floor.

There are approximately three million layer hens in cages and Countdown sells millions of their eggs each year. SAFE said Countdown’s commitment will positively affect around 400,000 hens. A recent Horizon Research poll showed that three-quarters, (76%), of Countdown’s customers would be supportive of Countdown phasing out cage eggs. New Zealand’s largest egg producer, Zeagold, has committed to the supermarket’s cage-free target.

“For some time now, we’ve been talking to Countdown supermarkets about what it would take to be able to produce cage free eggs in larger volumes,” said Michael Guthrie, managing director of Mainland Poultry Limited.

“We’re now in a position to commit to supporting their target of being cage free. We will be bringing on new volumes of free range and barn eggs to do this.”

This article was originally published on Inside Retail NZ.

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