Free range eggs – Consumer pressure works

Our focus for January is free range eggs, boxed and as ingredients.

It is amazing how such a small thing can make sure a huge difference. Hellman’s using about 331 million eggs annually. Chickens lay around 1 egg per day, therefore this has changed the lives of around 331 million chickens a year. Remember check all labels if it doesn’t say free range it isn’t. See what you find and add info via comments.

In a groundbreaking move, Hellmann’s UK and now USA have gone free-range on all mayonnaise.

Responding to growing media attention and consumer concern for chickens, a Hellmann’s spokesperson said: “By July 2008, all Hellmann’s Mayonnaise on the supermarket shelves will have been made using free-range eggs.

“Hellmann’s UK has proactively chosen to make this change and work started on this project back in 2006. It has taken some time because it was important that Hellmann’s could ensure continuity of supply when dealing with such large volumes. Increased production of free-range eggs has now enabled Hellmann’s to move supply.”

Compassion in World Farming Food Business Manager, Rowen West-Henzell, said: “We are delighted by this move, which demonstrates that Hellmann’s is serious about farm animal welfare. Its decision will help nearly two hundred thousand laying hens out of cages every year.

“Not only that, Hellmann’s UK is showing tremendous leadership in an area that often goes unnoticed – egg product. Many consumers buy free-range whole eggs but forget to do the same with other products that contain egg, like cakes and mayonnaise. By going completely free-range in the UK, Hellmann’s is really helping British consumers make clear ethical choices.”

The announcement came after sustained media attention on the welfare of chickens in food production. Compassion in World Farming has met with Hellmann’s previously in relation to their sourcing policies and will continue our dialogue with their team. The move won Hellmann’s UK a Good Egg Award, which they are celebrating in a major advertising campaign across the UK – sample poster above.

If you want to help hens remember to buy free-range egg products as well as free-range shell eggs. Look out for free-range cakes, biscuits and, of course, mayonnaise.

And since 2017 – Hellman’s Mayonnaise is now made with 100 percent cage-free eggs in the United States, Hellman’s parent company Unilever announced Monday. The announcement was made a full three years ahead of schedule, after Hellman’s pledged in 2010 to be cage-free by 2020.

“They are one of the largest egg buyers to reach the point of exclusively using cage-free eggs, and they were also one of the first companies to announce that they were going to do it,” says Josh Balk, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “I think that maybe at this point, in terms of the very large, national brands, it might be solely Unilever and Whole Foods.”

“Hellmann’s and Unilever have proven yet again that doing well goes hand-in-hand with doing good,” said Matthew Prescott, Senior Food Policy Director for The Humane Society of the United States, in a press release. “People want animal welfare assurances when it comes to the food they buy, and Hellmann’s move shows just how in synch the company is with its customers.”

According to Russel Lilly, Marketing Director at Hellman’s, the company had to completely rebuild its supply chain to achieve this goal, which was facilitated by the market shift that occurred in the U.S. after an increased demand for cage-free eggs, particularly amongst large egg buyers.

Hellman’s original pledge was made when only two percent of egg-laying hens in the United States were cage-free. Today, that number has reached about ten percent.

“We are moving fast,” says Balk. “If you look at the trajectory, by 2025 in the United States, it’s likely going to be very difficult to find an egg from a caged chicken anywhere in the country.”

The speed at which Hellman’s was able to achieve this goal is, Balk says, a testament to Unilever’s commitment to animal welfare.

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