Feb 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The animal rights movement is quietly winning the war over cage-free eggs

Picture of a Trader Joe's egg display

Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Egg producers in the U.S. are quietly in the middle of a transition to cage-free eggs, AP reports.

Driving the news: The percentage of cage-free hens has increased from 4% in 2010 to 28% in 2020, and the number is expected to soar to 70% in the next four years, per AP.

The big picture: Animal rights activists have urged egg producers to provide better treatment for chickens. Now, states have passed laws and food chains have joined the calls.

  • Since approximately 2015, McDonald's, Burger King and other chains and manufacturers have announced they will only use cage-free eggs, AP notes.
  • In California, voters passed Prop 12 in 2018, a ballot initiative aimed at improving the living conditions of farm animals. Under that law, keeping hens in battery cages will be illegal. It is not yet in effect.

What they're saying: "What we producers failed to realize early on was that the people funding all the animal rights activist groups, they were our customers. And at the end of the day, we have to listen to our customers," Marcus Rust, CEO of Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms, the nation’s second-largest egg producer, told AP.

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