Countdown defends cage-free move
Countdown says it’s the only supermarket chain that will go entirely cage free for its own egg brands by 2022.
Animal rights charity Safe accused Countdown’s parent company, Woolworths, of refusing to phase out cage eggs in its Countdown supermarkets.
Woolworths was committed to phasing out all cage eggs in its Australian supermarkets by 2025, but in New Zealand its Countdown stores were only committed to phasing out its own brand of battery and colony cage eggs by 2022.
But Countdown spokesman James Walker said the company questioned why Safe was focused on Countdown when all national supermarket chains sold free range, barn and caged eggs.
Walker said Countdown was the only national supermarket chain planning to stop selling both colony caged or battery caged eggs of its own brand by 2022.
Woolworths’ Australian supermarkets were also committed to no longer using cage eggs as an ingredient in its Home Brand products, and to labelling the stocking density on Woolworths Select free-range eggs.
Under the Government’s Layer Hens Code of Welfare, farmers must stop producing eggs using traditional battery cages by 2022.
But hens would still be able to be kept in larger cages known as colony cages, which meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, but were controversial and may or may not give hens outdoor access. Colony cages were bigger, typically housing between 40 and 60 birds, and included a nesting area, perches and a scratching area.
Foodstuffs, which owns the New World, Pak’n Save and Four Square chains, has not used caged eggs for its Pams brand for almost 10 years but still stocks caged eggs from other suppliers.
Foodstuffs’ other home brand of eggs, Value, would go battery cage free by 2022 but the company had not announced if Value would be colony free.
Safe head of campaigns Mandy Carter said Countdown’s commitment was not enough and would take too long, after a February Horizon poll found 74 per cent of shoppers would support Countdown if it phased out selling caged eggs.
A Newsroom investigation revealed millions of Palace Poultry free-range eggs sold at Countdown may have been laid by caged hens. The issue was being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
Safe has campaigned for a year to make Countdown go cage-free.
‘‘Woolworths has listened to their Aussie customers by committing to going cage-free, but they are turning a deaf ear to caring Kiwis wanting to end hen cruelty,’’ Carter said.
Countdown was treating Kiwis as second rate customers, she said.
Actor Aidee Walker is the face of a new Safe advert urging Countdown to stop stocking all caged eggs.