Last updated on July 18th, 2016 at 08:32 am
Publix Super Markets has published a position statement on its website that says it will work toward a 100 percent cage-free egg supply by 2026.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent out an email to media with a link to Publix’s statement. Even though Publix already offered seven varieties of cage-free eggs in its stores—more than most traditional retailers, Publix points out—HSUS targeted the Lakeland, Florida-based chain with full-page newspaper ads, television commercials and social media efforts, trying to apply pressure to “the last of the major grocery companies to announce a cage-free timeline.”
Publix indicated that it needed to take sufficient time to understand the complex nature of the issue and formulate a plan. Its position statement reads:
“At Publix, we are committed to providing our customers with a premier shopping experience, which includes a wide selection of quality products, friendly and helpful service, and superior value. We understand eggs are an affordable way for families to incorporate protein into their diets, and many of these families are interested in the source of their food. We currently provide seven varieties of cage-free eggs in our stores—more than most traditional retailers.
“We understand the high standards expected of us and will continue to work to provide our customers with quality products and a variety of choices, while ensuring food safety and animal welfare.
“Because we take concerns about animal welfare seriously, we have been diligently working with our egg suppliers, industry leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to better understand the timing of converting our shell egg supply to completely cage-free, while meeting customer demand, remaining affordable, and maintaining animal health and safety. In addition to animal welfare concerns, there are several other factors to consider: the higher costs and retail price associated with cage-free eggs, the speed of this industry change, current WIC regulations preventing the purchase of cage-free eggs in the areas where we operate, and the ability of smaller farms to remain in business while making necessary investments.
“We appreciate the trust our customers place in us to do the right thing and will continue to work to provide our customers with quality products and a variety of choices, while ensuring food safety and animal welfare. We are committed to moving forward with this challenging and complex effort and will work toward being 100 percent cage free by 2026.”
While Publix is definitely a major grocery company, operating more than 1,100 stores in the Southeast, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, which operates 240 stores in eight Midwest states, has said it will not succumb to pressure from interest groups to declare a policy prematurely, either. The chain said it is “committed to having a solution in place by the end of 2022,” but did not offer specifics on that solution.
In its statement this spring, Hy-Vee said, “Unfortunately, several organizations and activists have used mainstream media and social media to put pressure on many national and regional retailers to offer only cage-free eggs to their customers, therefore forcing the egg industry to change the way it does business.
We are a company that has always put our customers’ best interests first. We are also located in states that are home to some of the largest egg producers in the United States. Before we act, we always think through how our decisions will impact our customers.”
Hy-Vee said that it already offers cage-free eggs as well as other varieties and price ranges and only does business with suppliers who adhere to U.S. regulations governing animals involved in food production.
“We take sustainability, animal rights and the environment seriously, which is why Greenpeace has recognized our efforts and ranked us one of the top three retailers in the country when it comes to implementing sustainable seafood efforts,” the chain said.
However, “we will not be pressured to remove all egg options from our stores because of the adverse impact it would currently have on our customers. We need time to evaluate how moving to 100 percent cage-free eggs will financially impact our customers, especially those who rely on the value eggs bring to a tight budget.
We will continue to work with our valued suppliers to develop a sustainable and affordable 100 percent cage-free egg supply. We are committed to having a solution in place by the end of 2022. In the meantime, we’ll continue to stand firm in our principles and values—the same ones that have been supported by our customers for the past 85 years.”