The egg industry needs an extra 334,000 free roaming chickens this week after Morrisons became the first major supermarket to sell only free range eggs(1).
Morrisons originally committed to move away from caged eggs by 2025 after listening to a consumer campaign spearheaded by teenager Lucy Gavaghan in 2016(2).
Morrisons can move five years earlier after doubling the number of free-range farmers that supply its egg packing business.
The commitment will mean all Morrisons eggs will come from hens that have outdoor access for at least eight hours each day, as well as nest boxes with wide perches and spaces for scratching and dust bathing.
Morrisons is continuing to work on ensuring that 100% of eggs used as ingredients in products are cage free by 2025.
Morrisons is also dropping the price of a pack of six free range eggs from 80p to 75p to make them even more affordable.
Morrisons sells over 10 million eggs a week, with 2 million previously coming from caged hens.
Robert Hofmann, Morrisons Egg Buyer, said:
“Improving animal welfare is very important to customers and it’s very important to us. We source our eggs directly from farms and have worked hard to help them all move to free range.
“From today, all our eggs will come from free-range hens that are able to roam freely outdoors – typically during daylight hours - and then return to nest boxes in the evening.”
Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming, says:
“It’s great to see Morrisons achieving their commitment to be 100% free range on shell eggs ahead of their 2022 target. Momentum on ending the use of cages for laying hens is growing and Morrisons are leading the way. Importantly, they also have a 2025 cage-free commitment on the eggs that go into processed and ingredient foods.”
In 2018 Morrisons introduced a popular Pick Your Own Eggs service enabling customers to choose and pack their own free-range eggs in recycled boxes – choosing from one single egg to a tray of 30.
1 - None of the UK’s six biggest supermarkets have previously gone free range only (Tesco, Sainsbury's, ASDA, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl). In the past 52 weeks Morrisons sold 107 million caged eggs. Broadly, it would need 334,000 hens to lay that many eggs in 52 weeks.
2 - Morrisons moved subsequently to a target of moving away from caged eggs by 2022 before today’s announcement.