A new report by the international NGO Sinergia Animal has surveyed more than fifty food companies and highlights that 70% of them (thirty-five) are already phasing out the use of eggs produced in battery cages—a farming method that uses cages so small that animals can barely move.
The report, called Cage-Free Tracker, features corporate policies from five Asian countries: India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand. Among the thirty-five companies, eight provided specific evidence for progress within the Asian market: Aramark, Kraft Heinz, Lotus’s, Marriott, Pizza Express, SaladStop!, Unilever, and Wyndham Destinations.
Phichamon Thamasook, Corporate Communications Manager – Asia of Sinergia Animal, says: “Asia is the largest egg producer in the world. In this region, more than one billion eggs are laid by hens annually, and the majority are from conventional battery cages: a system that is considered so cruel that it has been banned across the EU, Canada, New Zealand, and nine states in the US.
“Fortunately, our results show that companies in Asia understand that battery cages must go and are changing to more animal friendly practices too.”
Battery cages confine each hen to a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper for their entire lifespan. Hens, who are natural foragers, are unable to carry out the most basic behaviors such as perching, nesting, dust bathing, or stretching their wings completely.
Companies that commit to a cage-free policy are pledging to only supply eggs from hens who live in cage-free systems, in which animals live more natural lives, can move around more freely, and can carry out the behaviors that are essential for their well-being.
The report provides a visual tier system for concerned consumers, ranking companies that have committed and reporting those yet to publicly announce cage-free policies.
In the bottom tier, some companies are reported as having no cage-free commitment in Asia, even though many of these international brands—such as McDonald’s, Kewpie, and A&W—have commitments in other regions of the globe.
The initiative also aims to provide transparency and recognition to the progress companies are making towards making their supply chains cage free. A total of thirty-two companies operating in Asia responded, with 16% reporting progress in sourcing cage-free eggs in Asia or nationally in Asian countries. These include Kraft Heinz, Pizza Express, and SaladStop!.
“We expect to see even more progress towards cage-free egg production in Asia in the coming years. Consumer concern about the origins of their food is increasing, causing companies to look to improve animal welfare standards,” says Thamasook.
A global trend in the corporate sector
In the last ten years, globally, more than 2,300 food companies have already committed to stopping sourcing eggs from farms that use battery cages. Now, Asia is quickly becoming an important territory for these policies.
In 2021 alone, there were thirty-six new cage-free commitments in Asia and 23 global commitments that apply to the region.
Sinergia Animal plans to keep running its cage-free tracker every year with companies operating in Asia. “We hope that by shedding light on the progress, we can inspire more corporations to join this global movement that aims to produce more compassionate foods,” concludes Thamasook.