Countdown commits to cage-free with support from egg farmers

North Island Countdown stores to be cage free in 2024, South Island to follow in 2025

28 March 2017: Countdown has today announced it is targeting to be 100 per cent cage-free in retail eggs by the end of 2024 in the North Island and by the end of 2025 across the rest of New Zealand. Countdown is the first national retailer to make this move. This extends Countdown’s earlier commitment to transition to free range and barn only in its own brand eggs by the end of 2022.

The company has been working hard with egg suppliers for the past two years to increase the supply of free range and barn eggs in New Zealand. Last week, Countdown secured a new commitment from its largest egg supplier, Mainland Poultry, to provide a considerable increase in the amount of barn eggs they will supply to meet expected future customer demand.  This comes on top of the new investments in more free range and barn egg capacity made by Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme members, Wholesome NZ, Otaika Valley, and FRENZ.

Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs James Walker says Countdown is confident it has secured enough future volume from its egg producer partners to set down a pathway to being cage-free in 2024 in the North Island and 2025 in the South Island.

“By working together with all these egg producers, Countdown is confident it can source the 150 million free range and barn eggs each year we need to meet the needs of our customers by the 2024/2025 target dates.  This is a huge move, and one we’re really proud of.”

“Customer demand for free range and barn eggs has increased by 50 per cent in the last two years. While customers are showing more and more demand for cage-free eggs, affordability is also a really important consideration in making this decision. As volumes of free range and barn eggs increase, we would expect prices to come down.  We will always ensure we have a range of competitive egg prices for our customers.”

FRENZ director Rob Darby says, “Countdown have supported us for more than 30 years and now we’re delighted to support them in making the transition to 100 per cent cage free eggs. Countdown’s commitment to taking more supply of free range eggs is great news for the dedicated FRENZ farmers who raise happy, healthy hens, as they can invest in ramping up egg production.”

Michael Guthrie, Managing Director of Mainland Poultry Limited says, “As New Zealand’s largest egg producer, we know that there is an increasing public appetite for cage free eggs.

For some time now, we’ve been talking to Countdown supermarkets about what it would take to be able to produce cage free eggs in larger volumes.  We’re now in a position to commit to supporting their target of being cage free. We will be bringing on new volumes of free range and barn eggs to do this.”

Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launched in 2016 to provide certainty to suppliers that if farmers invest in free range or barn egg farming, Countdown will buy those eggs. 

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