After months of pressure from public figures like Bill Maher and Brad Pitt, wholesale retailer Costco is the latest company to announce the switch to cage-free eggs, following in the footsteps of Kellogg’s, Nestlé, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell.
In the past, Costco has faced particular criticism for failing to make the switch despite growing pressure from animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, given that nearly 10 years ago, Costco publically pledged to create a timeline working toward a cage-free supply chain for its eggs.
“Costco is committed to going cage‐free for its egg procurement,” the company said in a new statement on its website. “Since 2006, we have already substantially increased our percentage of cage‐free eggs: in fiscal 2006, cage‐free eggs represented 2 percent of eggs we sold and today they represent 26 percent.
“In calendar 2016 we expect to sell over one billion cage free eggs. We are working with our suppliers toward a complete and sustainable transition to a cage‐free supply chain. This transition, however, will take time because currently over 90 percent of the supply of eggs is from caged hens and because other retailers and restaurants are also moving to cage free requirements, placing greater demands on the limited supply.”
Speaking to Quartz, the Humane Society’s senior food policy director, Matthew Prescott, praised Costco for stepping up. “We’re confident that Costco will reach that goal quickly,” Prescott said.