In 2006, only 2% of the eggs sold in Costco were cage free. The number has now raised to 26%.
The Humane Society of the United States has been encouraging Costco’s decision for years, asking the company to become the first mainstream grocery retailer to commit to cage-free eggs. The company originally agreed to implement the change eight years ago; we are finally seeing them living up to their promises. Though Costco says the transition will take time, they are confident that they will be able to reach their goal of 100% cage-free eggs quickly.
One example of a farm that Costco bought eggs from is Hillandale Farms in Pennsylvania. This farm supplied eggs to a Costco in Washington state under a deceitful marketing campaign. The public was made to believe that the eggs came from a neighboring farm where the chickens roam freely. Instead, the chicken’s in Hillandale Farms are confined in extremely small cages. The chickens there live in awful conditions and often neglected—many times chickens are forced to co-habitate with the decaying bodies of other chickens.
Costco is known for its excellent treatment of employees, decent living wages and their commitment to doing business with suppliers whose animals live in ideal conditions. It’s a company that has bathed in an excellent reputation and has demonstrated a love and concern for all living beings. So, why did Costco continue their business with farms such as Hillandale Farms?
Costco lied about switching to cage-free eggs. They continued their business as usual and instead changed their marketing, just as Hillandale Farms did in Washington state. They started labeling their cartons as “cage-free” and plastered pictures of chicken’s roaming freely in a green pasture all over them. Many argue that they didn’t lie, stating that they did indeed sell cage-free eggs, however, the superstore lied about many caged eggs they sold. Of course, the public eventually found out and started complaining. As a result, hundreds of petitions have demanded that Costco starts supplying more cage-free eggs. Even A-list celebrities like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling have asked Costco to stop their business with farms that cage their chickens.
After years of demands and requests, Costco finally posted a statement that reads as follows:
“Since 2006, we have already substantially increased our percentage of cage‐free eggs: in fiscal 2006 cage‐free eggs represented 2% of eggs we sold, and today they represent 26%,” the company said. “In calendar 2016 we expect to sell over one billion cage-free eggs. We are working with our suppliers toward a complete and sustainable transition to a cage‐free supply chain. This transition, however, will take time because currently over 90% of the supply of eggs is from caged hens and because other retailers and restaurants are also moving to cage-free requirements, placing greater demands on the limited supply.”
The Human Society of the United States has said that they are unfazed and are eagerly awaiting the day that Costco fulfills their promise of 100% cage-free eggs. As more and more companies demand cage-free eggs, the Humane Society also expects farms like Hillandale Farms to either change their policy or be run out of business. The year 2016 is clearly an incredible year for egg-laying hens!