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Aus: Consumers favour free-range or barn eggs

Eggs from caged chickens are losing popularity to eggs from barn-raised and free-range chickens, says a grocery spokesman in Perth, Australia.

Woolworths fresh food GM Michael Batycki said that the chain is cutting the number of cage-egg brands it sells from 15 to 11. Woolworths sells 28 barn-laid and free-range brands. Consumers are buying more of these brands, even though the cost is much higher, he states. The move is reportedly expected to speed up a consumer-driven switch to free-range and barn-laid products, which has seen cage eggs lose market share.

Batycki said the move would mean more competitive prices and allow price-conscious shoppers to switch from cage eggs. "(Our decision) will influence our suppliers . . . and may generate a faster rate of change (to barn-laid and free-range) and that's good," he said. "As demand for free-range and barn-laid increases, through the economies of scale we should see a greater level of affordability… That may close the gap that exists and allow people to make the leap (from cage eggs)." Batycki added that the industry "may very well go down the path" eventually of not using cages at all.

The Australian Egg Corporation (AEC) agreed prices for free-range and barn-laid would fall if demand rose, but said they would never reach the low prices – up to $4 a dozen less – that cage eggs can provide, Courier Mail reports. James Kellaway, GM of AEC, said that it is for this reason that news of the cage industry's demise was premature.

"There is growth in the market share of free-range eggs but I still don't believe they will phase out the cage egg category," he said, adding that about 80% of the 13 mln laying hens in Australia are kept in cages.

According to The Advertiser, the market share of free-range and barn-laid eggs is up to 31% from 17% in 2000.

Natalie Berkhout

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    zandile msomi

    What is the different between barn cage and free-range? Which one is more profitable who have a good income?

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