Trader Joe's is the latest in a recent string of big food brands to make a commitment to cage-free eggs. The retailer, with more than 500 stores in the U.S., says it will sell only cage-free eggs in its stores by 2025. Stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado could hit that target much earlier—as soon as 2020.
The move comes just days after an online petition urging the chain to make the switch received more than 100,000 signatures.
The low-price supermarket, best known for its private-label brand of products, is already a large supporter of cage-free eggs; they make up about 60 percent of its current egg offerings. It was one of the first supermarkets to begin selling cage-free eggs more than a decade ago. And says the chain in a statement, "If market conditions allow us to accomplish these goals earlier, while still providing our customers outstanding value, we will do so."
Whole Foods Market, which is one of Trader Joe’s main competitors, already exclusively sells cage-free eggs in its stores. Costco recently announced that it would switch to all cage-free eggs, but it has not set a date for that transition. And Target also recently announced its plan to move toward cage-free eggs, a trend that's growing as consumers continue to demand more ethically-sourced animal products.
Trader Joe's announcement also follows a string of food manufacturers switching to cage-free, particularly in the fast-food arena: McDonald's, Starbucks, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, and Wendy's have all made pledges to switch to using only cage-free eggs in their offerings. Taco Bell has set one of the most ambitious timelines, aiming to fully transition before the end of the year.
“In 2005, in response to valuable customer feedback, we made a change to have all Trader Joe’s brand eggs come only from cage-free hens,” the company said. “Since then, we have seen steady increases in our sales of cage-free eggs. Currently at Trader Joe’s, 62% of the eggs we sell are cage-free. To put that in perspective, at this time, of all the eggs sold in the U.S. (across the variety of retailers), about 11% are cage-free.”
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