Nestlé is the Latest Company To Commit to Cage-Free Eggs

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Many egg-laying hens in the U.S. spend their lives in cages only 67 square inches. That is smaller than a sheet of letter-sized paper. Battery cages are so small that hens are unable to turn around, flap their wings or engage is normal chicken behavior such as nesting, perching or dustbathing. Cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings and lay eggs in nests.

 More and more companies are pledging to go cage-free. About 200 companies have pledged to eliminate battery cages from their supply chains in the U.S. Major corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s have pledged to go cage-free by 2025 in their egg supply chains.

Nestlé is the latest company to commit to transition to cage-free eggs. The company pledges to source only cage-free eggs by 2025 for all of its global food products, including all shell eggs and egg products they directly source. In the U.S. and Europe, the company will transition to cage-free eggs by the end of 2020. For the rest of the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania it will go cage-free by 2025. In Asia, the company states that it will aim for the same transition period as conditions allow.

Nestlé has already been working on converting some of its supply chain to cage-free eggs. In Europe, over 40 percent of the eggs used in its ingredients are from cage-free sources. Most of the egg products the company uses are in mayonnaise, pasta and pastry. In 2016, Nestlé purchased 1.7 million tons of meat, poultry and eggs. That same year, the company began to implement its pledge in the U.S. to purchase only cage-free eggs by 2020.

In 2014, the company began to implement its responsible sourcing requirements for meat, poultry and eggs. Its updated Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare is based on the World Organization for Animal Health’s (OIE) “Five Freedoms” which include freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, fear and distress, physical and thermal discomfort, and injury and disease. It also includes freedom to express normal patterns of behavior. In addition to phasing out battery cages, Nestlé has pledged to phase out sow gestation crates.

Phasing out cage-free eggs is not the only recent announcement by Nestlé. The company’s new animal welfare policy will meet standards set by Global Animal Partnership (GAP). It will end certain practices within its supply chains such as the use of chicken breeds bred to grow faster and bigger. Its new policy also includes more floor space for chickens, improved lighting standards, and ending live-shackle slaughter.

Making supply chains more humane is becoming a trend. In recent months Unilever, General Mills and Campbell committed to implementing GAP standards in their supply chains. Many restaurant chains having already adopted those standards, including Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Jack in the Box. That is good news for American chickens.

Photo: Nestlé