Confining chickens in cages where they cannot even spread their wings is one of the cruelest practices in industrial factory farming. That’s why we have made it our mission to free every last hen from such confinement. Recent announcements from some of the biggest corporations in the United States show just how swiftly we are moving toward that goal.
Over the past month, the following corporations we have worked with have announced that they’ve reached their cage-free goals:
- Nestle, the world’s largest food company, announced that 100% of the eggs it buys for all products in the United States now come from cage-free chickens.
- Mondelez, a Fortune 500 snack food company with more than $25 billion in annual revenue, announced it had completed its transition to 100% cage-free eggs for all its products in North America.
- Aramark, a major food service company, said it has just finished transitioning to 100% cage-free eggs.
- The fast-food chain Arby’s confirmed that it now uses only 100% cage-free eggs.
- The coffee chains Einstein Bros, Peet’s and Caribou said they have all completed their switch to 100% cage-free eggs (and they’re even working to convert eggs used as ingredients in things like baked goods to cage-free also).
Other big corporations that are working with us have pledged to accelerate their progress. These include:
- Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company, which serves over 10 million meals every day. The company announced it will complete its switch to 100% cage-free eggs in the United States by May this year.
- General Mills, which announced that by the end of next year, 75 to 80% of the eggs it purchases everywhere in the world will come from cage-free chickens. The company intends to have 85% of its eggs cage-free by the end of 2023, 90% by the end of 2024, and 100% by the end of 2025.
It is now estimated that about 90 million of the 320 million chickens used by the U.S. egg industry each year are cage-free. According to industry estimates, when the laws we helped to pass in California and Massachusetts banning the sale of eggs from hens confined in cramped cages come into effect at the end of this year, nearly 50 million more hens will be freed from cages. Add to that this growing progress by major companies and by this time next year, nearly half of all egg-laying hens in the United States might no longer have to endure life in a cramped cage. We’ve also won legislative campaigns in four more states in 2019 and 2020—Oregon, Washington, Michigan, and Colorado—outlawing cruel cage confinement. As they kick in over the next few years, we expect to see this progress accelerate further.
This is extraordinary momentum, especially when you consider that when we began our cage-free campaign in 2005, only about 2% of egg-laying hens were cage-free in the United States. Through years of persistence and pressure – ballot measures and legislative victories, corporate engagement campaigns and much more – we have methodically whittled away at this problem.
Of course, not all companies are moving so steadily toward the cage-free future and much more progress is needed internationally. Companies like Dine Brands (which owns Applebee’s and IHOP), Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel, and Conagra Brands (owner of Egg Beaters) have been slower than their peers to transition. Multi-national companies based in the United States, such as Nestle and Mondelez, are still working to reach their cage-free commitments overseas. The groundwork they have laid in the United States, if applied internationally, will help to drive change for billions more animals. But overall, our movement today stands on the cusp of flipping the egg industry to cage-free, and we couldn’t be more proud of the role we — with your support — have played in making this change happen.