Tesco has today announced that it is to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025.
This comes after the retailer conducted a detailed review of its egg sourcing strategy, which included consultation with suppliers, industry experts and other key stakeholders.
Tesco says this move is the latest initiative designed to ensure the retailer sources products in a sustainable way.
Working with supplier partners, Tesco will transition to 100% cage-free eggs, moving to alternative sourcing methods, such as barns, free range and organic.
At present, some 43% of the 1.4 billion eggs sold by Tesco each year come from caged eggs, also known as enriched colonies. Some 57% of eggs sold by Tesco in the UK come from Free Range or Organic methods.
Improving animal welfare
Matt Simister, Tesco’s Commercial Director for Fresh Food said: "Our decision on caged hens is one of a number of Tesco initiatives designed to ensure sustainable sourcing, and improve animal welfare.
"We carried out an extensive and collaborative review with our suppliers and key industry experts to help us work through how best we can move to 100% cage-free eggs.
"This will ensure we give our supplier partners the certainty they require, to make the significant and necessary investments needed for the new farming systems."
Veli Moluluo, Managing Director - Noble Foods Ltd, Tesco’s largest supplier of eggs, said: "We have already started investigating new methods of egg production, and the commitment from Tesco to move away from enriched colony production in a manageable timeframe gives us the confidence and ability to invest for the long term."
During the transition from enriched colony production, Tesco says its supplier partners will continue to maintain established and stringent standards for all its egg producers.
Tesco’s producers are required to meet high welfare specifications and must comply with the British Lion Code of Practice to ensure that all Tesco eggs have been sourced responsibly.
'20 million laying hens in the UK are kept in cages'
Compassion in World Farming 'hugely congratulates' Tesco on their announcement.
With 43% of the 1.4 billion eggs sold by Tesco each year currently coming from hens in cages, the group estimate Tesco's commitment will benefit the lives of more than 2 million laying hens per year.
"Tesco’s commitment reflects a leadership position over the remaining UK retailers that still sell caged eggs such as ASDA, Morrison’s, Lidl and Aldi", Compassion in World Farming said.
"With 28% of the market share in the UK, this move to drive cages out of modern egg production must surely signal the end of cages for laying hens in the UK.
"Nearly 20 million laying hens in the UK are kept in cages, denying them some of the most basic behaviours and depriving them a life worth living.
"Compassion has been engaging with Tesco for almost 20 years. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship developed over the last few years, to ensure the production system changes required to go cage-free will give hens a good quality of life in rich and stimulating environments."
Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, says: "It is fantastic that Tesco are to go cage-free by 2025 and I would like to congratulate them for their bold commitment, and for doing the right thing for laying hens.
"I hope that this will be the catalyst needed for all other UK retailers to follow Tesco’s lead and phase out cages for good."