Noble Foods, the UK’s largest egg producer, has promised to supply only cage-free eggs by 2025.
The decision comes just days after campaign group Animal Equality released undercover footage of the “horrific” conditions for hens reared by Noble Foods supplier Walston Poultry Farm.
The farm supplied eggs for Noble Foods’ Big and Fresh brand, which is sold in UK supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.
A Noble Foods spokesperson said: “Noble Foods has announced a group-wide commitment to supplying cage-free eggs by 2025. This announcement comes as a culmination of months of planning to achieve the realities of moving to solely cage-free production.
“Noble has been working closely with its retail partners and the farming community to ensure a smooth transition.”
Almost half of all eggs produced in the UK come from caged hens but some UK supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and The Co-op do not sell caged eggs either whole or as ingredients in other products.
Noble Foods’ move follows supermarkets Asda, Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, Morrisons and Iceland, who have pledged to sell only cage-free eggs by 2025.
Speaking to SM, Hayley Beer, assistant professor of operations management at Warwick Business School, said Noble Foods should take this opportunity to embed social value into their business and not just use it as a way to appease customers after negative media attention.
“Mostly I think Noble Foods should figure out how this changes and/or enhances their strategic priorities and performance objectives – there does not have to be a trade-off between finances and this important social move,” she said.
“But to reach that space, Noble needs to consider how it can redefine the value of its products and services such that it encompasses important social considerations over the long term – perhaps better farming practices and an appeal for younger individuals to get back into that occupation.
“At a time when unhealthy eating habits are coming under fire, and veganism is on the rise, Noble should also be considering how they can help promote and achieve balance with these broader agendas with their particular value points.”
She added: “I would definitely recommend they [Noble] take the time to talk to important stakeholders, including a range of people who eat eggs, farmers, animal specialists, to engage them in the process and encompass their needs.”
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