Sainsbury’s turns to free range eggs

21-03-2007 | |

Sainsbury’s, one of the four largest retailers in the United Kingdom, is phasing out eggs laid by hens in cages and replaces them by eggs from free range birds that roam outside, birds given organic feed or birds kept in loose flocks in barns.

Sainsbury’s sells around 150 million cage eggs a year – one in four of all those on its shelves. The company’s policy will effectively remove some 600,000 hens from cages over the next four years.
Trading director Mike Coupe said: “Sainsbury’s is firmly committed to phasing out all its caged eggs ahead of 2012, and is currently working with its egg suppliers to achieve 100% UK cage-free eggs as soon as possible.”
However, the change is taking longer than the supermarket would like because of a shortage of eggs from free range, organic and barn systems. This shortage has opened the door to criminal gangs, who are cashing in on a national move against battery eggs.
It is alleged that as many as 500 million battery eggs have been imported from Europe over the past five years and relabelled as expensive free-range. They have been sold for up to 80% more than those from caged birds in a scam that has cost consumers £50million (app. €75m).
Supermarkets typically charge 99p for a box of large free range eggs, while six battery cage eggs cost 54p.
An inquiry by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggests millions of relabelled eggs have been sold by leading stores. The figure could be as high as 2 million a week over five years.
Related articles: