Shareholders will benefit most from Woolworths’ decision to phase out caged eggs, according to Victorian Farmers Federation egg group president Brian Ahmed.
The supermarket plans to remove caged eggs from its shelves by 2018, a move welcomed by animal welfare lobby groups as a win for battery hens.
According to The Weekly Times, Ahmed said the move is simple a way for Woolworths to capitalise on welfare concerns and increase their return to shareholders.
“They want to sell more free range eggs because there is more money in them,” Ahmed said. “That’s what it basically comes down to — $3 for a carton of cage eggs versus $5 or $6 for free range.”
Ahmed said the cage egg industry had introduced major changes in the past 10 years, in line with concern from animal welfare organisations.
“That’s what frustrates me more than anything else. People need to know the amount of work farmers do — the work that goes in to producing the eggs that are put on those shelves. It is a passion, it’s a big commitment and we don’t like being portrayed as these cruel people that are taking the advantage of animals to reap the rewards,” Ahmed said.
The plan to phase out eggs by 2018 was criticised in January as “no longer achievable” by a NSW Farmers spokesman, due to a 2013 bird flu outbreak. The outbreak near Young saw all 400,000 hens from a Langfield Pastoral Company property, as well as 50,000 from a neighbouring property destroyed, seriously affected the supply of free range eggs.