As part of a new partnership with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, Woolworths will be phasing out caged eggs within four or five years and will commit to stocking RSPCA or equivalent certified fresh chicken.
The move has been deemed as 'costly' by president of the Victorian Farmers Federation egg group, Brian Ahmed. Ahmed said that the move will affect both famers and consumers, and will serve as an unwelcome change for the egg industry, the Weekly Times Now reports.
"We want to all go free range but it's costly. They are going to take away a good protein source from consumers that can't afford it," he said.
In addition to an increase in cost, Ahmed said that many farmers converted to new cage systems only five years ago, which were then fully compliant with industry standards. Ahmed is doubtful that farmers will recieve any compensation to move away from caged systems.
In contrast, Lyn White, campaign director for Animals Australia said that the organisation welcomed the move.
"Hens have been paying a terrible price for cheaper eggs. It's terrific that Woolworths has acknowledged this and taken an historic ethical stand on this issue," Ms White said.
"We would hope that other retailers match this commitment so that this move sees the beginning of the end of battery cages in this country."
Woolworths’ announcement comes just days after consumer watchdog Choice submitted its second ever ‘super-complaint’ to NSW Fair Trading, requesting that the government body investigate whether 'free-range' egg claims are misleading consumers.