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Australian consumers debate the switch to free range eggs

New research from Canstar Blue has shown that there is a major difference in the egg-purchasing preferences across Australia as consumers decide between free range or cheaper, caged eggs.

There has been confusion amongst consumers over the distinction made between the two types of eggs in recent light of the changing labelling laws. As a result, Canstar asked 3,000 people to choose which type of eggs they tend to buy.

Of the 2,599 respondents who had bought eggs from a supermarket or grocer in the last three months, 51 per cent favoured free range were found to favour free range/organic eggs while 22 per cent said they buy caged eggs.

The survey found that consumers in Queensland are significantly more likely to buy caged eggs than those in any other part of the country -29 per cent compared to the national average of 22 per cent. Elsewhere in the country, New South Wales was 22 per cent, Victoria 21 per cent, South Australia 18 per cent and Western Australia was just 12 per cent.

Queenslanders were also found to be the least likely to buy free range eggs -44 per cent compared to the national average of 51 per cent. Consumers in Western Australia (59 per cent) and South Australia (58 per cent) were most likely to buy free range. The figure for New South Wales was 52 per cent and Victoria 51 per cent.

The vast majority of consumers (94 per cent) agreed that they buy caged eggs because they were cheaper, although 90 per cent said they would switch to free range eggs if they cost less.

On the other hand, respondents that bought free range eggs did so due to the higher quality (86 per cent). 90 per cent of consumers cited not wanting to support the caged egg industry as a reason for buying free range, whilst 84 per cent were happy to pay more for their free range eggs.

Ultimately, the Canstar research showed that the majority of consumers are favouring free range eggs and even those who do buy caged indicate that they would prefer to switch. Caged eggs generally cost half the price of branded free range eggs, although supermarket label free range eggs have narrowed the price gap.

The emphasis is usually put on the industry to improve standards, but some of those on the front line insist that Australia’s huge demand for eggs simply can’t be met without caged eggs, with claims there could even be an “egg shortage” when supermarkets phase out caged eggs.

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