BENTONVILLE, ARK. — The cage-free egg movement received a major boost on April 5 with the announcement that the nation’s largest retailer will join the cause. Wal-Mart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. said they will transition to a 100% cage-free egg supply chain by 2025, joining the long list of retailers, suppliers and food service establishments that have made a similar commitment over the past several months.
|Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.|
“Our customers and associates count on Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “Our commitment to transition to a cage-free egg supply chain recognizes that expectation and represents another step we are taking to improve transparency for food we sell in our U.S. stores and clubs.”
Wal-Mart said the move supports the company’s continued progress toward its goal of achieving the globally-recognized “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare for farm animals in its supply chain and comes on the heels of the company’s commitment to new animal welfare positions.
As part of its U.S. cage-free goal, Wal-Mart said it will require 100% of shell egg suppliers to be certified and fully compliant with United Egg Producers (UEP) Animal Husbandry Guidelines or equivalent standard. The retailer also said it plans to challenge suppliers to use selective breeding practices, innovation and best management practices to improve the health and welfare of laying hens, and will monitor and report on supplier’s continuous improvement against these metrics through its Sustainability Index, a tool that helps the company track the environmental impact and sourcing of products throughout the supply chain.
Wal-Mart since 2001 has offered customers the option of cage free eggs in its U.S. stores, but the latest initiative will take the company’s commitment to another level.
The Humane Society applauded Wal-Mart’s announcement, saying it “provides the closing argument on the era of battery-cage confinement.”“Since September, when McDonald’s announced its cage-free policy, we knew that we had turned the corner in the fight against battery cages,” The Humane Society said. “But today, that debate ends, and the trajectory of this debate is clear. The era of confining hens in cages in America’s food system is officially sunsetting.”