Caging hens for the purpose of egg production is widely regarded as one of the worst-of-the-worst factory farming practices. Fortunately, companies and consumers alike are driving a global market shift to 100% cage-free eggs. Through EggTrack, a tool by Compassion in World Farming, we will achieve a cage-free future, together.
What is EggTrack?
All the top food companies have committed to going 100% cage-free in the US or Europe—transitioning supply chains to source eggs only from cage-free hens by 2026 or sooner—and some have taken these commitments global. Together, these animal welfare commitments in the US, Europe, and across the world have the potential to impact the lives of billions of egg-laying hens.
As an animal protection organization laser-focused on ending factory farming, Compassion in World Farming is here to ensure that these commitments are successfully met—on or ahead of schedule.
That’s why we created EggTrack, an innovative tool to track companies’ progress towards their 100% cage-free goals. EggTrack is designed to:
Ensure food companies can and will stick to their cage-free egg commitments;
Encourage transparency in the marketplace; and
Assist food companies during their transition to a 100% cage-free egg supply.
“It is our vision to enable species-appropriate behavior of farm animals. This is only possible if cages become a thing of the past. With our commitment to sell only shell eggs and egg-containing products from cage-free laying hens by 2025, we are taking the first step towards achieving this vision.” – ALDI Einkauf SE & Co. oHG for ALDI Nord Group of Companies
“Ensuring transparent communication is fundamental to allow consumers to discover and know the Barilla world and all our projects and initiatives from farm to fork. With this objective, the collaboration, and therefore the support, of CIWF through the EggTrack report is fundamental. This report not only promotes dialogue between producers and processors of egg products, but also gathers and gives voice to the requests of increasingly attentive and aware consumers.” – Barilla
“In 2018, Danone committed to source cage-free eggs and egg ingredients. We are proud to have met this commitment in 2020. This achievement was in no small part thanks to ongoing dialogue with NGOs and partners like CIWF, and to annual reporting that helped us track and share our progress.” – Danone
“The Hershey Company understands the importance of using responsibly sourced ingredients in our products, including cage-free eggs. We are proud of the progress we have made against both our original US commitment and our subsequent global commitment that we will reach by 2025, working with our sourcing partners to secure high-quality, reliable sources around the world. We are well on track to meet our 2025 global goal and will continue to share our progress with all our stakeholders as we move toward 100% across all our products.” – Bethany Fitzgerald, Director of Responsible Sourcing, The Hershey Company
“At METRO we continue to support the cage-free eggs transition through our global Cage Free Eggs Policy and subsequent targets and commitments, which we recently renewed. Through our work with professional customers in the trade, restaurant and hospitality sector, we are noticing a growing demand of cage free eggs. This is great news but also a call for us to continue strengthening our sourcing practices to support it. Moreover, we will continue promoting best practices and improve reporting transparency to support the transition to a cage free egg industry over time.” – Andrea Weber, Corporate Responsibility Director, Metro Group
Our fifth annual EggTrack report provides an expanded view of global cage-free progress—and reveals that more and more food companies are reporting transparently and making measurable progress towards their 100% cage-free goals, despite the continuing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In these turbulent times, accountability and transparency have never been more paramount. In order to continue to drive the cage-free transition that will improve the welfare of the laying hens in our food system, companies must demonstrate how they are making good on their commitments. Many have risen to that challenge, as evidenced by the highlights from our 2021 report:
Demand for cage-free eggs continues to grow across the world: More companies are extending their cage-free commitments globally as recognition of the welfare issues associated with caged egg production continues to grow. Last year saw a total of 18 new global commitments, with an additional nine announced in 2021 so far. These have come primarily from the manufacturing, restaurant, and hospitality sectors, while retailers continue to lag behind. The restaurant sector in particular made significant gains in 2021, with giants like Inspire Brands and Yum! Brands committing to convert their supply chains across all regions.
The transition to cage-free remains uninterrupted as purchasers and producers rebound from the impacts of COVID-19: As supply chains recover from the disruptions caused by the pandemic, companies in even the hardest hit sectors are renewing their efforts around cage-free sourcing and reporting. While some of the effects of COVID-19 are more visible in this year’s progress updates, there are also signs of substantial improvement, with many companies making headway in advance of commitment deadlines.
Companies continue to show greater transparency in their cage-free journeys: The overall number of companies reporting continues to increase, and progress disclosures are higher in quality and more comprehensive than ever before, with companies publishing regional breakdowns and egg category specifications.
219 companies are included in EggTrack this year – 92 operate globally, 52 operate only in North America or the United States, and 75 operate only in Europe. Of those, 156 (71%) reported progress against their commitments.
An additional 22 companies are reporting this year, increasing the proportion of companies reporting to 71%, from 63% in 2020.
108 companies updated their reporting since last year to reflect continued progress against their commitments.
Overall, companies that reported progress increased cage-free sourcing in their supply chains by an average of 0.81% this past year. This means that these companies’ supply chains now stand at an average of 79.35% cage-free.
Of the 47 companies with global commitments, 26 companies reported progress (55%).
Two companies – Danone and Hormel Foods – reported meeting global cage-free commitments this past year.
Companies that reported global progress increased cage-free sourcing in their global supply chains by an average of 10.1% this past year. This means that these companies’ global supply chains now stand at an average of 55.21% cage-free.
United States/North America
Of the 116 companies with US or North American commitments (as part of a regional or global commitment), 71 companies reported progress (61%).
Twelve companies reported meeting US or North American commitments this past year.
Companies that reported US or North American progress increased cage-free sourcing in those supply chains by an average of 2.63% this past year. This means that these companies’ US/North American supply chains now stand at an average of 71.43% cage-free.
Of the 116 companies with European commitments (as part of a regional or global commitment), 98 companies reported progress (84%).
Two companies reported meeting Europe-level commitments this past year (Nestlé and Yum! Brands for its KFC subsidiary), and 13 reported meeting country-level commitments within Europe.
Companies that reported European progress decreased cage-free sourcing in those supply chains by an average of 0.15% this past year, with COVID-19 and avian influenza being cited as reasons behind supply and demand challenges. This means that these companies’ European supply chains now stand at an average of 86.13% cage-free.
Understanding what constitutes a true cage-free system is essential for making future-proof investments, ensuring a smooth market transition, and maximizing the welfare of laying hens: As companies continue to progress towards their 100% cage-free goals, we encourage them to engage their suppliers regarding the type of cage-free systems being used or proposed. Neither combination systems nor limited access systems are considered truly cage-free, as they contain doors (and partitions) that enable producers to confine birds either routinely or permanently and lack many of the features needed to guarantee good welfare. To ensure that consumer expectations for higher welfare are met, companies should avoid investing in these systems since they do not offer the same welfare potential as truly cage-free housing.
With rising consumer demand, ongoing company progress, and an increasing number of legislative bans on eggs from caged hens, cage-free is fast becoming the industry baseline. As the world moves towards a 100% cage-free future, Compassion looks forward to our continued work with companies, producers, and industry stakeholders to improve the lives of billions of laying hens.
There is no longer a question as to whether cage-free egg production is the path forward. We have seen that cage-free systems offer birds higher welfare potential than caged systems, which by nature of confining birds prevent the exhibition of highly motivated behaviors. Cage-free systems have illustrated how, when provided freedom of movement, laying hens are able to express natural behaviors and see improved physical and psychological health. Well-managed cage-free housing provides an opportunity to not only reduce pain and frustration but also to promote positive emotions and experiences in production.
As the global industry continues to shift toward cage-free egg production, there must be increased collaboration and communication between producers and purchasers. To do this will entail proactive planning and conversations, as well as the on-the-ground work of construction and retrofitting facilities. This transition will require mutual investment and collective planning by producers and purchasers to build the infrastructure and supply necessary to meet commitments in time. It is critical to maintain open communication around expectations and intentions, including the standards observed that ensure improved welfare and the types of systems used. Where combination systems or limited access systems are employed, steps should be taken by producers, purchasers and equipment manufacturers to invest in improved systems that meet the welfare needs of laying hens. Producing and purchasing eggs from truly cage-free systems provides a less risky investment and more future-proof supply chains. As stakeholders increasingly expect and monitor the delivery and management of animal welfare commitments, we urge companies to respond by integrating annual progress reporting on all farmed animal welfare commitments into their broader reporting procedures. EggTrack will continue to follow up with both reporting and non-reporting companies, highlighting industry leaders as well as those who have fallen behind in disclosing their progress to ensure we achieve a 100% cage-free future and eliminate one of the worst factory farming practices. We look forward to advancing this work with businesses across the industry to improve the lives of billions of laying hens together.
Fund the Tracker
You can keep this tool running by donating to Compassion in World Farming, the organization making sure food businesses can and will stick to their animal welfare commitments through transparent progress reports.
Help fund EggTrack and Compassion’s ongoing work to improve the lives of farmed animals!