August 13, 2009

People prefer eggs from non-caged chickens

Eggs from caged chickens are losing in popularity to eggs from barn-raised and free-range chickens, a grocery spokesman in Perth, Australia, said Thursday.

Woolworths fresh food general manager Michael Batycki told The Advertiser in Adelaide the store chain is cutting the number of cage-egg brands it sells from 15 to 11. Woolworths sells 28 barn-laid and free-range brands. Consumers are buying more of these brands, even though the cost is much higher.

(Our decision) will influence our suppliers ... and may generate a faster rate of change (to barn-laid and free-range), Batycki said. The industry may very well go down (the) path eventually of not using cages at all.

The Australian Egg Corp. agrees prices for free-range and barn-laid will fall if demand rises, the newspaper said. However, the group says the prices will never reach cage-laid prices, which are up to $4 a dozen less. James Kellaway, general manager of the AEC, said about 80 percent of the 13 million laying hens in Australia are kept in cages.

The market share of free-range and barn-laid eggs is up to 31 percent, up from 17 percent in 2000, The Advertiser said.