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Meijer and Supervalu join cage-free crusade


There are going to be a lot of happy chickens roaming free in the coming years as retailer after retailer establish dates by which they will offer only cage-free eggs.

Meijer and Supervalu recently announced plans to source only cage-free eggs by 2025, joining Delhaize and Albertson’s who earlier this year set 2025 as their cage-free deadline. Ahold USA earlier this year also indicated it would be cage-free by 2022. Walmart and Costco have also announced cage-free commitments as have some major food suppliers such as Nestle.

"Although our current volume of cage-free egg sales is relatively low, we continue to see shopping trends shifting toward cage free," said Peter Whitsett, executive vice president of merchandising for Meijer. "We are in the business of providing customers with choices, and setting this goal will ensure we are ready for the transition when our customers are."

Meijer currently sells numerous varieties of eggs, including cage free, free range and traditional. The majority of eggs sold in Meijer stores are sourced from farms in the state of Michigan that have been working with the Meijer family for more than 50 years.

Supervalu said cage-free eggs currently account for about 12% of its total egg sales after a decision last year to convert is store brand Wild Harvest to cage-free.

“Our decision to move toward selling only cage-free eggs reflects our ongoing commitment to improving animal welfare practices across the industry,” said Mark Van Buskirk, Supervalu’s executive vice president, merchandising, marketing and retail. “Because there is currently a limited supply of cage-free eggs, the transition will take time. We will continue to work with our suppliers to move as quickly as possible toward a sustainable, 100% cage-free egg supply chain.”

The biggest supplier of eggs to retailers is Cal-Maine Foods and the company is seeing strong demand, according to CEO Dolph Baker.

“Specialty eggs have been a key driver of our growth throughout this fiscal year, with volumes up 13.7% for the third quarter compared with the prior-year period,” Baker said when the company announced results for the quarter ended Feb. 27.

Specialty eggs, which include cage-free eggs, accounted for 23.6% of the eggs the company sold in the period and 31% of revenue due to their higher cost compared to 20.3% of unit volume and 26.9% of sales volume the prior year.

“We continue to pursue additional opportunities to market and sell specialty eggs, especially in light of changing demand trends,” Baker said. “As the food service industry, restaurant chains and major retailers are increasingly demanding more cage-free eggs in response to market forces, we are working with our customers to facilitate a smooth transition to meet this demand.”

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