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Costco to ban the use of cages in its global supply chain

Costco has become the first US retailer to issue a global policy on the confinement of animals in its supply chain.

The company has said it will ban the use of cages for chickens in its global egg supply, but it has been unable to provide a date for completion. Costco, which has markets across north America, Europe and the Far East, including mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, said the process could not be achieved overnight due to availability issues. Josh Dahmen, Costco financial planning and investor relations director, said: “We are in the process of making that transition to cage-free eggs. We will continue to increase the percentage over time, with a goal of eventually getting to 100%, although this may take several years in some countries due to issues with availability,” reported Meat and Poultry.

Costco will continue to increase the percentage of cage free produced eggs over time, with a goal of eventually getting to 100%. Photo: Henk Riswick
Costco will continue to increase the percentage of cage free produced eggs over time, with a goal of eventually getting to 100%. Photo: Henk Riswick

Welfare policy

In its recent updated animal welfare policy, Costco – which has 239 international stores – said failure to act would create risks for the business and its shareholders. “The failure to provide adequately for the welfare of animals throughout Costco’s supply chain could have significant effects on the business and operations of the company and its investors.” Figures for last year show that 100% Costco sourced eggs from France, Iceland, Mexico, Spain and the UK were from cage-free systems, dropping to 74.2% for eggs from Australia. Figures for South Kore and Japan were much lower at just 9.3% and 1%, while statistics from China and Taiwan were not available.

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The move was welcomed by the Lever Foundation, a US-based animal protection charity that had worked with Costco for the past 2 years on the commitment. Spokeswoman Kirsty Tuxford said: “We applaud Costco for this landmark decision to use only cage-free eggs throughout its global supply chain.” The Foundations has been working with a number of international food companies operating in the Greater China region, helping them move towards cage-free and free-range eggs.