Media Releases

Most Canadian Shoppers Misled by Egg Carton Welfare Labels, According to Survey

TORONTO—According to a new survey, Canada’s largest egg producer is misleading consumers through its egg carton labels.

More than 1,000 participants in the nationwide survey conducted by Bryant Research were shown a variety of egg cartons, including Burnbrae Farms’ labels, and asked what welfare conditions they think the egg-laying hens experience. Burnbrae’s Naturegg and Nestlaid packages both feature images of green pastures, despite the fact that the hens who produce those eggs are confined indoors inside metal cages.

  • When shown Burnbrae’s “Naturegg” packaging, just 7% of consumers were aware the hens spent their lives in small indoor metal “battery cages” — where hens live in a space the size of a sheet of paper. A whopping 73% of respondents instead assumed Naturegg hens experienced some degree of better housing conditions.
  • Regarding Burnbrae’s “Nestlaid” packaging, only 21% of respondents correctly answered that the hens live in indoor metal cages with 10 to 100 hens per cage. While 57% of consumers thought the cozy-sounding “Nestlaid” label meant the hens were housed in better, cageless conditions. Only 13% correctly identified that the “nests” in these cages are simply an area of the cage surrounded by rubber flaps.
  • When prompted with various “free run” packaging examples, 68% percent of consumers mistakenly believed these hens are housed in better conditions with outdoor space. Only 14% of respondents correctly answered that while these hens are housed in a cageless system, they spend their lives indoors with no access to outdoor space.

Crucially, the majority of consumers reported spending more money on these different egg varieties because they incorrectly believe the laying hens experience better welfare conditions.  

When Save-On-Foods became the first retailer in North America to introduce clear in-store signage to educate customers about which eggs come from cage-free versus caged hens, , the grocer saw a remarkable shift, with cage-free eggs accounting for almost half of their total egg sales after the change. 

However, the grocery chain is an outlier and most Canadians are still faced with uncertainty about where their eggs are coming from—despite the fact that a previous survey found 87% of Canadian consumers want retailers to provide clear information about the types of eggs used in their supply chain.

While clear, accurate labelling is of increasing importance to a growing number of shoppers looking to make more ethical food choices, Canada does not currently regulate claims made by egg companies on packages and labels. 

“Canada urgently needs federal action to crack down on misleading egg packaging,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.”Consumers want to make more ethical choices and are willing to spend more for cage-free eggs. Egg companies like Burnbrae use pastoral imagery and flowery terms like ‘Naturegg’ and ‘Nestlaid’ to disguise the fact that these hens spend their entire lives inside cages. Retailers need clear in-store signage to protect shoppers from being duped.”

Most egg-laying hens in Canada are still kept inside wire cages, despite promises by the egg industry and the largest grocery retailers to stop selling eggs from caged hens. Instead of transitioning to cage-free like most other countries, the Canadian industry is merely transitioning to slightly larger cages that still deny hens freedom of movement and are criticized by animal welfare scientists.

The full survey results and additional insights can be found here.

Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
[email protected]