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Cage Eggs Imported into Germany to Meet Demand

by 5m Editor
24 February 2010, at 10:08am

GERMANY - The early introduction of a ban on conventional battery cages for laying hens has meant that the country is relying on egg imports from countries where battery cages are still permitted.

Starting on 1 January this year, the Berlin government banned the use of conventional battery cages in egg farms, prompting something of a mass prison break for 60 per cent of Germany's hens.

However, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the transposition of article 5 of the European directive for the protection of egg-laying hens has upset the market conditions.

In a translation from Press Europ, it appears that the Germans are eating more and more eggs – 214 per head and per year in 2009 – and the new legislation has meant that Germany is unable to keep up with demand.

In 2009, difficulties associated with the new rules resulted in the production of two billion fewer eggs. Worse still, only Austria and Sweden have outlawed the use of small cages, and Germany's early compliance with the law laid down in Brussels has paved the way for imports from other EU countries where rearing conditions have yet to be upgraded.

Last year, Germany imported a total of 4.9 billion eggs – one in every two eaten in the country – many of them from the Netherlands, where 44 per cent of hens live in cages, a fact not mentioned on the packaging concerned.

Süddeutsche Zeitung advises consumers unhappy about the new law to look inside the box. If the eggs bear the stamp '1-NL', the eggs were laid by happier hens, according to Press Europ.