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Research reveals Aussie shoppers unaware of caged egg industry

Following the announcement that a national review of Australia’s poultry standards will be further delayed, World Animal Protection has released new consumer research on caged eggs versus free-range eggs, showing a majority of shoppers are still unaware of the battery cage landscape in Australia.

28 November 2019, at 2:33pm
  • More than half (59 percent) always or almost always buy free-range eggs, with over half (52 percent) saying they never or hardly ever buy caged eggs
  • 30 percent don't know or are unsure what caged eggs are
  • Less than a third of consumers (32 percent) know how little space layer hens have in a cage
  • 46 percent of consumers are unsure whether battery cages still exist in Australia and an additional 28 percent believe some still exist but are being phased out.

Following the announcement that a national review of Australia’s poultry standards will be further delayed, World Animal Protectionhas released new consumer research on caged eggs versus free-range eggs, showing a majority of shoppers are still unaware of the battery cage landscape in Australia.

World Animal Protection surveyed respondents from around Australia, revealing more than half of Aussie shoppers (59 percent) always or almost always buy free-range eggs.

With no plans in place to phase out caged eggs, it’s alarming to see almost half of consumers (46 percent) are unsure whether battery cages still exist in Australia and a further 28 percent believe some still exist but are being phased out.

Furthermore, less than a third of consumers (32 percent) know how much space layer hens have in a cage, with most respondents (68 percent) thinking they have a bigger space than they actually do.

Campaign Officer at World Animal Protection, Rochelle Flood said:

“There is a clear global trend of consumers moving away from caged eggs, with many countries and fast food chains working toward phasing them out completely.

“It’s encouraging to see that Australians are onboard, preferencing free-range eggs when doing their weekly shopping,” Ms Flood said.

“However, this new research highlights there is still a gap in knowledge among the public on the treatment of hens in battery cages.

“The Government must take a stand to ensure Australia can keep up with the rest of the world, putting us firmly on the map as a nation that says no to cruelty.”

Eleven million hens are kept in battery cages around Australia each year, with between three and eight hens crammed in a single cage, giving each hen the equivalent space of an A4 sheet of paper.

Physical problems caused by cages include feather loss, foot problems, brittle bones and weak muscles, and psychological concerns include severe emotional distress which can often manifest in feather plucking and hysteria.

World Animal Protection is asking Australian consumers to buy cage-free eggs, preferably those labelled as free-range with a smaller number of hens per hectare.

Agricultural Ministers from across Australia are meant to be considering an update to the poultry standards and guidelines, which have not been updated since the early 2000s, and they will be looking into a potential phase-out of battery cages.

New South Wales is Australia's largest egg producer with approximately 33 percent of Australia's layer hens.

Western Australia has supported a phase-out of conventional cages over 10 years with no new conventional cages to be installed from 2019.

World Animal Protectionis calling on the NSW Agriculture Minister, Adam Marshall, to do the right thing by chickens and support a 10-year phase-out of battery cages, improving chicken welfare in the future and allowing farmers time to transition.