Safeway, the second-largest US grocery chain, announced it has become the first major national retailer to require all of its organic and cage-free egg suppliers be “certified humane” by the nonprofit third-party label organization Humane Farm Animal Care.
Safeway also has surpassed its goals for increasing sales of cage-free eggs from 6 percent to 12 percent by 2012. Today, more than 15 percent of Safeway’s overall egg sales are cage-free eggs.
Safeway also has added the Open Nature label to its certified humane program this year and says it will continue to expand the campaign as customers respond to the initiative.
The grocery chain launched an initiative in 2008 with existing suppliers to have all Lucerne cage-free and O Organics shell eggs sourced from farms certified humane by HFAC. Safeway chose to work with HFAC because the organization’s third-party, independent labeling program is widely known as comprehensive and trustworthy, the grocer said.
To qualify as certified humane, Safeway can only source cage-free eggs from producers who meet specific animal welfare standards, such as providing hens with ample space and shelter, access to fresh water and a diet of quality feed with no animal byproducts.
The standards also don’t allow cages and housing facilities must include areas for hens to nest, dust bath, scratch and perch.
The cage-free egg sourcing goals come on the heels of Safeway’s announcement in May that it would only carry crate-free pork. McDonald’s, Burger King, Kroger, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Sonic, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Baja Fresh, Compass Group and Sodexo have also announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Kraft Foods also announced in July it will eliminate gestation crates from Oscar Mayer’s pork supply chain by 2022.
In May, Safeway and Whole Foods became the first retailers ever to earn a “green” or “good” rating for commitment to the sustainability of the seafood they sell, in Greenpeace’s annual Seafood Retailer Scorecard.