Kroger and Albertsons, the nation's top two grocery store chains, have both announced cage-free egg commitments within one day of each other.
Animal welfare organization Mercy for Animals used its power of protest and petition to egg-on a cage-free egg commitment from Albertsons, the nation’s second-largest supermarket chain. A day later, Kroger, the largest supermarket chain, made a similar announcement.
"As our customer base has been moving to cage-free at an increasing rate, Kroger’s goal is to transition to a 100% cage-free egg supply chain by 2025," the company said in a statement. "We are committed to working with our suppliers during this transition in a way that ensures eggs are readily available, safely produced, and affordably priced for all of our customers."
Kroger operates stores under its own name as well as Ralphs, Dillons, Fry’s Food Stores, Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Smith’s Food and Drug, and QFC.
"Kroger’s move to adopt an exclusively cage-free egg policy is a tipping point for the industry,"said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy for Animals. "As the nation’s largest grocer, Kroger’s cage-free egg commitment will alleviate the suffering of countless hens in its supply chain and inspire other grocers to make similar animal welfare commitments."
Albertsons will transition its supply chain to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025 in all of its stores, which include Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Star Market, and Carrs.
“We take our commitment to providing responsibly sourced products seriously, and that responsibility extends naturally into ensuring our suppliers uphold humane animal welfare practices,” Shane Sampson, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer for Albertsons said in a statement. “The transition to cage-free eggs will help us continue to provide a great, humane product to our customers while ensuring that our suppliers have ample time to prepare their operations to meet increased demand from retailers.”
Mercy for Animals collected more than 65,000 signatures on an online Change.org petition, and protested at Safeway/Albertsons corporate headquarters and in front of several of the store locations. The group also ran a targeted online campaign that included open-letter pleas from former “Price is Right” host Bob Barker and Academy Award-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix.
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"Albertsons has taken a significant step forward in improving the lives of farmed animals,” said Runkle. “Albertsons' cage-free egg commitment will reduce the suffering of countless hens and we're optimistic it will inspire other food companies to do the same.”
While cage-free egg commitments have been on the rise lately, Runkle points to H-E-B, Publix, and SUPERVALU, holdouts still committed to an archaic practice that he says “has no place in a civilized society.”
"[I]t's never been clearer that the days are numbered for egg factory farmers who pack birds in cages so small they can't walk, spread their wings, or engage in other natural behaviors,” said Runkle. “Any food company that has not yet adopted a cage-free egg policy will find itself at odds with common decency, ethics, and business trends."
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eggs image via Shutterstock