Media Releases

New Report Shows Canada Lags Behind on Cage-Free Egg Commitments

TORONTO—Newly released data shows that as grocers and other food companies around the world are making remarkable strides towards cage-free commitments in the food industry, Canada is emerging as a laggard due to delays and pushbacks by corporations and industry.

The Open Wing Alliance (OWA), a global coalition of 95 animal protection organizations in 75 countries across six continents, has released a new report revealing that 89% of all corporate cage-free commitments with deadlines of 2023 or earlier have been successfully fulfilled. More than 2,500 public commitments have been made by food corporations around the world to remove cages from their egg supply chains. Of these pledges, 1,199 food companies, including restaurants, retailers, and manufacturers, have successfully completed the transition to cage-free facilities. 

Meanwhile, Canada’s cage-free progress is at a near standstill. In a 2016 pledge, Loblaw committed to ending the sale of eggs sourced from caged hens by next year (2025). Not only is Loblaw nowhere close to keeping its word, it has refused to commit to a new timeline to deliver on its promise. A similar 2016 pledge by the Retail Council of Canada, which includes Loblaw, along with other big grocery players like Sobeys and Metro, has been abandoned. And the industry-dominated National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), which sets voluntary welfare standards for farmed animals, has refused to recommend cage-free housing, and has merely said that conventional battery cages should be out of commission by 2036. Meanwhile, Canada’s egg industry is simply transitioning to slightly larger “enriched” cages.

But the new data from OWA shows this doesn’t have to be the case, offering clear evidence of the groundbreaking momentum within the global egg industry, driven by growing consumer pressure, farmed animal protection legislation, and corporate commitments. Eleven US states have passed laws to ban the production and/or sale of eggs raised from hens in cages, and the European Parliament has voted to support a ban on cages. Numerous countries have addressed the cruelty of cages by banning them entirely, and many other countries have enacted laws that will come into force in the coming years.

“As Canadian food companies and the egg industry drag their feet and make excuses, generations of hens are forced to spend their lives confined to cruel, restrictive cages where they suffer extreme mental distress and can’t even spread their wings,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “While companies around the world are showing what is possible if the willingness is there, the Canadian egg industry is refusing to budge with around 83% of hens still kept in cages.”

“Instead of taking meaningful steps to reduce cruelty, Canada’s largest egg producer Burnbrae Farms and the rest of egg industry has wasted time and money pivoting towards so-called ‘enriched cage’ or ‘enriched colony’ systems which, as a recently released Animal Justice undercover video exposé shows, do little to improve the lives of the hens suffering inside.”

Rather than actually improving welfare for hens, Burnbrae has leaned into marketing terms like “Nestlaid”, misleading Canadians about the true cruelty behind enriched cages. A survey commissioned by Animal Justice found that 57% of Canadian consumers thought the Nestlaid label meant the hens were housed in better, cageless conditions. A majority of consumers also reported spending more on these different egg varieties because they incorrectly believed the laying hens experience better welfare conditions. 

“With nearly every food company around the world pledging to remove cruel cages from their egg supply chains, it’s clear that cage-free is the expectation—not the exception,” said Carley Betts, Director of The Open Wing Alliance. “As consumer awareness grows around the world, policies and laws are also advancing to protect farm animals raised for food. All signs point to a cage-free future, and we’re confident that a global transition is achievable, especially as many of our corporate partners have already achieved their goals—some years ahead of their deadlines.”

Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]

Julia Wisner
Director, Public Relations
Open Wing Alliance
[email protected]