Countdown launched its Egg Producer Programme last year, and the company is now confident enough to announce its commitment to selling only free-range and barn eggs across all of its own-brand eggs by 31 December 2022. Farmers are already forced by law to stop producing battery caged eggs by that date, but the supermarket chain has decided to go further and, during the same time frame, will also phase out colony-caged eggs from its private labels.

It’s an ambitious target, according to Nikhil Sawant, Countdown’s merchandise manager of Perishables, but the company believes it will be able to find the necessary supply to meet customer demand, amounting to approximately 40,000 dozen free-range and barn eggs per week.

"We are extremely proud of our direct relationships with our farmer partners,” said Sawant, mentioning the success of Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme. “This further announcement enables egg farmers to speed up their plans, and we are delighted that our partner Wholesome NZ has committed to our plans already. We hope our announcement gives further confidence to the egg industry to invest in increasing free range and barn egg supply.”

Construction has started at Wholesome NZ’s Higgins Poultry, which is abandoning its caged egg production completely, and by November will move entirely to barn and free-range eggs. Owner Ian Higgins said the business felt its investment was secure due to the certainty of supply at the other end.

Countdown’s stores, however, will continue to offer an affordable choice of eggs, allowing customers to purchase what best suits their needs.