Countdown’s Path to Cage-Free Eggs Takes Flight

Five Countdown stores across Auckland and Wellington have opened their doors with only cage-free eggs on the shelf for customers.

Countdown announced in 2017 that it would go cage-free in all on-shelf eggs by the end of 2024 in the North Island and the end of 2025 in the South Island.  From today, shoppers at Countdown’s Milford, Waiheke Island, Grey Lynn, Crofton Downs and Newtown stores will only be able to buy free range and barn eggs as the company begins to roll out the change, and understand how Kiwis respond.

Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, said Countdown has been working closely with its egg farmers since 2017 to help build more cage-free volume, and that these first five stores are critical to help understand future demand.

“Animal welfare is a key concern for our business and our customers, but we’re highly aware that people make purchasing decisions based on a range of factors, including price and what they’re using eggs for.  While moving five stores to completely cage-free is a big shift, in these particular stores around 90 per cent of customers are already telling us that cage-free is important to them, so we hope they’ll embrace the change to completely cage-free,” said Kiri Hannifin.

“While 2024/2025 might seem a while away, we have to work closely with our egg producers to establish a clear path to cage-free so that we’re confident we have enough future volume to achieve our goal.

“Eggs are a staple food, and affordability is a really important consideration.  As volumes of barn and free range eggs continue to increase, this will in turn improve access and affordability for customers.  We’re committed to working with egg farmers to improve animal welfare standards and also help ensure eggs remain as affordable as possible.”

“Otaika Valley Free Range has worked with Countdown since 2015 to increase the availability and supply of free range eggs. We are thrilled to see Countdown taking the next step and trialling some stores as cage free only. This reinforces for us Countdown’s commitment to proactively move towards cage free as the supply and availability of these eggs increases," said William Sandle, from Otaika Valley Free Range Eggs.

Countdown’s goal is to have 100 percent cage free eggs on shelf, subject to regulatory changes and based on available supply, affordability and customer demand. Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launched in 2016 to provide certainty to supply partners that if they invest in free range or barn egg farming, Countdown will buy those eggs.