Target announced last Wednesday that it would be joining the ranks of Subway, McDonald’s, and Starbucks by pledging to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs. The change is planned for 2025.
“Target is committed to the humane treatment of animals, and we believe they should be raised in clean, safe environments free from cruelty, abuse or neglect,” the company said in a statement.
While several manufacturer and restaurant chains have already made similar pledges, Target is one of the first retailers to commit to cage-free eggs. Others include Costco, which has not yet set a timeline for the promise, and Whole Foods, which is already 100 percent cage-free. Josh Balk, senior director of food policy for the Humane Society told Fortune that for most other retailers, Whole Foods represents a distinct demographic; Target’s move is one of the first in the mainstream grocer category.
“There’s nothing more powerful in talking about this issue to a company than stating that its competitors are doing it and they are not,” Balk says.
Experts point to McDonald’s announcement in September as the beginning of this trend, with an influx of other food companies following in suit, including this most recent announcement from Target.
As with many companies making such a commitment, Target has given itself ample time to make good on the promise, which will allow it to develop a network of sources for cage-free eggs. Current infrastructure cannot yet support the vast and sudden demand.
“This is a significant change for egg producers, so they have to redesign their egg production facilities to make this change,” Target told BringMeTheNews.
Jason Amundsen, who raises egg-laying hens, told the online news outlet that this change should force the existing cage structures to become obsolete.
Last year, more than 90 percent of America’s egg supply came from hens raised in battery cages. The cage-free label implies uncaged hens inside barns or warehouses, but it does not stipulate any free-range or outdoor access. Wayne Parcelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society, says it’s still a step in the right direction, “Cage-free hens, even in indoor barns, have at least double the amount of space per bird as caged hens.”
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