By the end of 2024, Countdown is targeting to be 100 percent cage-free in retail eggs in the North Island, and by the end of 2025 across the rest of New Zealand. Countdown is the first national retailer to make this move and it extends Countdown’s earlier commitment to transition to free range and barn only in its own brand eggs by the end of 2022.
Over the past two years, the company has been working hard with egg suppliers to increase the supply of free range and barn eggs in New Zealand. Having secured a new commitment from its largest egg supplier, Mainland Poultry, Countdown is now able to provide a considerable increase in the amount of barn eggs they will supply to meet expected future customer demand. This comes on top of the new investments in more free range and barn egg capacity made by Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme members, Wholesome NZ, Otaika Valley, and FRENZ. According to Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, James Walker, Countdown is confident it has secured enough future volume from its egg producer partners to set down a pathway to being cage-free in 2024 in the North Island and 2025 in the South Island.
“By working together with all these egg producers, Countdown is confident it can source the 150 million free range and barn eggs each year we need to meet the needs of our customers by the target dates. This is a huge move, and one we’re really proud of,” said Walker.
“Customer demand for free range and barn eggs has increased by 50 percent in the last two years. While customers are showing more and more demand for cage-free eggs, affordability is also a really important consideration in making this decision. As volumes of free range and barn eggs increase we would expect prices to come down. We will always ensure we have a range of competitive egg prices for our customers.”
For over 30 years, Countdown has supported FRENZ and the company director Rob Darby said they are delighted to support the company in making the transition.
“Countdown’s commitment to taking more supply of free range eggs is great news for the dedicated FRENZ farmers who raise happy, healthy hens, as they can invest in ramping up egg production,” said Darby.
New Zealand’s largest egg producer Mainland Poultry Limited know that there is an increasing public appetite for cage free eggs.
“For some time now, we’ve been talking to Countdown supermarkets about what it would take to be able to produce cage free eggs in larger volumes,” said Michael Guthrie, managing director of Mainland Poultry Limited. “We’re now in a position to commit to supporting their target of being cage free. We will be brining on new volumes of free range and barn eggs to do this.”