SAFE is applauding retail outlets FreshChoice and SuperValue, owned by Countdown, for committing to move away from selling cage eggs. This latest move brings all major New Zealand supermarket chains together, united against the cruelty of cage eggs.

SAFE has been talking with Countdown since 2012, and in dialogue about a cage-free egg commitment for FreshChoice and SuperValue since October 2017. Prompted by social media activity, Countdown informed their customers all SuperValue and FreshChoice stores will be cage-free in whole eggs by the end of 2025.

“We are at a pivotal moment in history. Now all the major supermarkets have decided to go cage-egg-free, the market for such cruel products is decreasing to the point that the egg industry will be rethinking any decision to build new colony cages. This policy extension by Countdown's owner, Progressive, isn’t just a step forward to free hens; it hammers a huge nail in the coffin of colony cages,” said Mandy Carter, campaigns director.

Progressive’s extended policy is the latest in a series of trending cage-free commitments across the country. Earlier last year, supermarket giant Countdown announced their commitment to go cage-free by 2025 after intense public pressure, followed by Foodstuffs who committed to be cage-free by 2027.  “With all of both Foodstuffs’ and Progressive’s supermarkets going cage-free, approximately 1.3million hens will be freed from a life confined in cages,” added Carter.

By law, conventional battery cages have to be removed by egg producers by 2022. However, the egg industry was set to replace these cages with equally cruel colony cages. Hens are crammed into wire cages with space only about the size of a magazine to live their entire lives. Both battery and colony cages prevent hens from exercising many of their natural behaviours, including fully stretching their wings and dust bathing.

The phasing out of cages is part of a global revolution by animal advocacy groups around the world including members of the Open Wing Alliance, of which SAFE is a partner organisation. “We vow to continue campaigning for hens until all cages are consigned to the history books."