Egg shopping

ConAgra Foods, the maker of Egg Beaters liquid egg white products, on Monday joined other major food companies in setting a target date for buying eggs only from cage-free hen operations.

The Omaha firm said it will “work toward a supply of 100 percent cage-free eggs in its U.S. operations by 2025.” That date matches the target date also set by companies including McDonald’s, General Mills and Campbell Soup. Other companies have set a target date of 2020, including Unilever and Nestle.

“We believe that not only is this the right thing to do from an animal welfare perspective, but it also allows us to satisfy growing consumer demand for cage-free eggs,” Chris Stockwell, ConAgra senior vice president and chief procurement officer, said in a statement.

Josh Balk, senior food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States, said announcements like ConAgra’s signal to egg producers that there will be a market for cage-free eggs, and encourage producers to invest in cage-free barns.

“Egg producers need time to phase in their systems,” Balk said.

ConAgra’s announcement follows several others from competitors in recent months.

“Companies realize that it’s socially irresponsible to continue to use eggs from caged chickens without a plan to eliminate that type of product,” Balk said. “These companies don’t want their brand to be associated with animal cruelty.”

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