Flocking to Cage-Free Eggs

Nestlé is certainly one of the biggest, but it’s not the only company to commit to cage-free eggs. Are other products on your convenience-store shelves also on board?
chicken photo

As more consumers seek transparency with regard to their food, companies are flocking to switch to cage-free eggs. And one of the world’s largest food companies—Nestlé—is the latest to take the pledge, announcing this December it will switch to cage-free eggs in all of its U.S. food products by 2020.

“In the digital world, everyone has a smartphone and they want to know where things come from and share that information,” Kevin Petrie, chief procurement officer for Nestlé in North America told the New York Times. “Is it good for me? Is the quality good? Has it been responsibly sourced?”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “cage-free” as birds that have unlimited access to food and fresh water and can roam in an enclosed area, but it does not require outdoor access.

Nestlé uses about 20 million pounds of eggs annually in brands on your shelves, including Häagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s and Edy’s ice creams, Nestlé Toll House cookie dough, Buitoni pasta, Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s.

“Our products are in the fridges and pantries of socially-conscious consumers across the United States, and we share their belief in the importance of responsibly-sourced ingredients,” said Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “The move to using exclusively cage-free eggs is one more way that we’re responding to consumers and establishing a precedent for farm animal welfare.”

The cage-free pledge builds on Nestlé’s commitment to farm animal welfare. As part of this commitment, the company outlined its plan to eliminate specific farming practices, like tail docking for cattle and pigs, gestation crates for pigs and veal crates.

Other companies, as well as several quick-service restaurants, making the cage-free pledge include:

  • General Mills: The company said in July it will convert its egg supply to cage-free by 2025.
  • Kellogg’s: It committed in October to sourcing all its eggs from cageless farms by 2025.
  • Wal-Mart: In May, the mass merchandiser said it plans to “find and implement solutions” to cruel treatment of farm animals, including housing hens in battery cages. Its in-house brand, “Great Value,” has been cage-free since 2010.
  • Subway: The sandwich chain will serve only cage-free eggs across its 30,000 North American stores by 2025.
  • McDonald’s: The fast-food chain, which uses about 2 billion eggs a year, said in September it will switch to cage-free eggs at its 16,000 locations in the United States and Canada within 10 years.
  • Taco Bell: The Humane Society estimates Taco Bell uses 130 million eggs per year, and the chain said it’ll make the switch to cage-free by 2017.
  • Panera Bread: The company, which uses about 120 million eggs annually, said in November that it will serve only cage-free eggs by 2020 at its nearly 2,000 restaurants.
  • Shake Shack: The chain will switch its supply and serve only cage-free eggs at all of its 66 U.S. locations by 2017.