The nation’s largest egg industry group says that it’s giving up in the battle against a Massachusetts ballot initiative that will ban state sales of meat and eggs produced from confined animals raised anywhere in the U.S. Cage-free eggs may soon become the norm.
“We don’t have any options,” United Egg Producers President Chad Gregory said in an interview with POLITICO. “The activists are ripping apart conventional cages, and we have no middle ground to go to.”
The group’s statement signals a change across the board, according to the article—this after the egg industry put up a reported $10 million to defeat a ballot initiative in California and came up short.
“We had every coalition in a state that you would want on our side,” Gregory said. “We didn’t just spend $10 million and do a couple TV ads. We built an unbelievable campaign — and we got clobbered.”
Consumers are no longer accepting that eggs should come from hens that aren’t able to turn around or spread their wings, according to the article.
Those reforms have been driven, at least in part, by the marketplace as more major retailers and restaurant chains seek to accommodate consumer demand. While a significant percentage of the egg industry disagrees with the cage-free trend, it’s becoming the new normal, said Rick Brown, senior vice president at the market reporting company Urner Barry.
This news comes as McDonald’s recently announced that it will be transitioning to cage-free eggs. The company uses a reported 2 billion shell and liquid eggs per year—or around 4 percent of the eggs produced in the U.S. Currently, less than 10 percent of eggs produced in the U.S. are cage-free, which is why the mega-food chain will need a decade for the shift. Burger King also announced that its egg and pig products will be sourced only from cage-free suppliers by 2017.
The cage-free movement is likely to grow, as producers can no longer export their eggs to states with such bans in place. The transition involves retrofitting barns to be cage-free, as well as feeding hens more soy and corn to make up for the calories that they burn moving around throughout the day.
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Cage-free hens image via Shuttershock