Free as a bird

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

HANKS to vig­or­ous shop­per de­mand, more re­tail­ers are pledg­ing to stop selling eggs laid by caged hens and are promis­ing to look for al­ter­na­tive pro­duc­tion sys­tems. Tesco, Ice­land, Aldi, Mor­risons and global food pro­ducer Sodexo have joined Sains­bury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in com­mit­ting to phas­ing out pro­duc­tion by caged hens from 2025. In the USA, chains such as Star­bucks and Nestlé are fol­low­ing suit. Jane Howarth, founder of the Bri­tish Hen Wel­fare Trust (BHWT), wel­comes the an­nounce­ment, hav­ing cam­paigned since 2005 for such changes—the north Devon-based char­ity has seen free-range egg pro­duc­tion grow from 32% in 2004 to 52% in 2014. How­ever, the NFU warns that this de­ci­sion will spark a knock-on ef­fect in the egg in­dus­try and en­cour­ages re­tail­ers to of­fer clear strate­gies and time­lines so pro­duc­ers can bud­get ac­cord­ingly. ‘Although 2025 is nine years away, time is of the essence to al­low our pro­duc­ers to make the nec­es­sary changes, with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion to their busi­nesses and to our cus­tomers—the Bri­tish pub­lic—a mar­ket worth an es­ti­mated £895 mil­lion,’ says NFU poul­try-board chair­man Dun­can Pri­est­ner.

The BHWT is hold­ing the first Bri­tish Hen Wel­fare Day on Septem­ber 23, invit­ing peo­ple to host Free Range Fri­day with tea and cake to raise funds for its re­hom­ing cen­tre near South Molton ( KB


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