Countdown has today announced its commitment to sell only free range and barn eggs across all its own brand eggs by the end of 2022.
Under the New Zealand government’s Layer Hens Code of Welfare, farmers must stop producing battery caged eggs by 31 December 2022. Countdown has also decided to phase out colony-caged eggs from its private label eggs by this date.
To meet this goal, Countdown will need to find approximately 40,000 dozen free range and barn eggs per week to meet customer demand, or 25 million eggs per year. Nikhil Sawant, Countdown’s Merchandise Manager Perishables, says this is an ambitious target.
“We are now confident to make this commitment because of the success of our Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn Eggs launched last year,” says Mr Sawant.
“We are extremely proud of our direct relationships with our farmer partners. Our Egg Producer Programme has allowed these egg farmers the opportunity to invest in more free range and barn egg capacity, due to having a guaranteed retail channel through Countdown,” he says.
“This further announcement enables egg farmers to speed up their plans, and we are delighted that our partner Wholesome NZ has committed to our plans already. We hope our announcement gives further confidence to the egg industry to invest in increasing free range and barn egg supply,” says Mr Sawant.
Ian Higgins from Wholesome NZ says the commitment from Countdown means he is removing caged egg production completely from his Higgins Poultry business, and starting construction on facilities to house hens for barn and free range egg production.
“It is incredibly difficult for farmers to spend millions of dollars on construction if they don’t have the certainty of supply at the other end,” says Mr Higgins.
“This announcement from Countdown means Higgins Poultry can completely move to free range and barn eggs as soon as November this year, because we know that our investment is secure.”
While traditional caged eggs currently make up around 70% of the market, since 2014 demand for free range eggs has increased 52 per cent and demand for barn eggs has increased by 30 per cent. Countdown’s Nikhil Sawant says we will only see this trend continue. However he says it is critical that Countdown continues to offer its’ customers a choice of eggs and affordable options.
“Eggs are a staple for many Kiwi families and an important source of affordable protein, so we will continue to have a range of eggs so that customers can choose what suits their budget or preference,” says Mr Sawant.