Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga SAFE push Countdown to go free-range

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EGGDORSING FREE RANGE: Jessica Browne from SAFE is urging Countdown to only stock free range eggs. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
EGGDORSING FREE RANGE: Jessica Browne from SAFE is urging Countdown to only stock free range eggs. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

SAFE Tauranga is joining a nationwide campaign to push Countdown into stocking only free-range eggs.

Tauranga SAFE co-chair Jessica Browne said there would be "a few giant chicken costumes out and about" this week.

"We are the voice for the animals, in this case for the hens. We are the voice for their welfare."

She said many fast-food outlets had set dates after which they only use free-range eggs, as had a supermarket company in Australia.

They were encouraging Countdown New Zealand to commit to a date to go free-range.

A SAFE press release said the decision to campaign Countdown New Zealand to stock only free range eggs was due to the decision made by Woolworths Australia, owned by the parent company of Countdown, to stop selling caged eggs by 2018.

Co-chair Fee O'Shea said although the caged system could produce more eggs, it was detrimental to chickens.

"Colony cages are still cages, it's just they're a bigger cage you can put more chickens in it. It's not the same, they can't scratch the dirt, they can't find the worm they can't do all those things that come naturally to them in a caged system."

Countdown spokesperson James Walker said keeping eggs accessible for families on budgets was important.

"Like almost all supermarkets in New Zealand, we give customers a choice of eggs, from free range, barn, colony caged and conventional caged eggs.

He said they had been in communication with SAFE for some time, and had told them they were increasing the amount of free-range and barn eggs on their shelves.

"[It is] in line with what customers want and the supply of non-caged eggs available. Presently around 40 per cent of egg sales are free range or barn eggs and this is growing."

Executive director of the Egg Producers Federation Michael Brooks said the egg industry provided a three-system farming model, with eggs supplied from colony/cage, free-range and barn production systems.

"The combination of the three systems provides the optimal welfare structure for the 3.6 million layer hens across New Zealand (as stipulated by the independently appointed National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee - NAWAC)."

"The importance of choice for Kiwi consumers is reflected in the latest generic supermarket sales data as at May 2016 which show that while free-range eggs are growing in popularity, sales of colony/cage eggs are showing even stronger volume growth.

"SAFE seems to want an affordable, versatile food staple moved beyond the reach of everyday Kiwis".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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