Countdown: The path to cage-free

Countdown commits to cage-free with support from egg farmers

Countdown is the first national retailer to announce it will go cage-free in its on-shelf eggs for customers.

Countdown’s goal is to have 100 per cent cage free eggs on shelf, subject to regulatory changes and based on available supply, affordability and customer demand. We are targeting the end of 2024 in the North Island and the end of 2025 in the South Island.

We are now confident that we have secured enough future volume from our egg producer partners. We have set out a pathway to meet this goal in conjunction with our supplier partners.

Countdown’s Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launched in 2016 to provide certainty to suppliers that if they invest in free range or barn egg farming, we will buy those eggs.  The new investments being made by our Producer Programme partners has gone a long way to us being able to make this target.  By working together with our egg producers, we are confident we 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.

Countdown was also the first national retail chain in New Zealand to announce cage free in our own brands of eggs this year.

Watch the video below for more information or you can read the media release here

Check out this short video for a closer look at what it will take to produce the additional eggs required to meet this commitment.

Countdown own brand eggs to go cage-free

Countdown has committed to selling only free range and barn eggs across all its private label eggs by the end of 2022.

Under the New Zealand government’s Layer Hens Code of Welfare, farmers must stop producing traditional caged eggs by 31 December 2022. At this time, Countdown has decided it will no longer sell traditional (battery) or colony caged eggs.

To meet this goal, we will need to find approximately 40,000 dozen free range and barn eggs per week, or 25 million eggs per year. This is an ambitious target.

We are now confident to make this commitment because of the success of the Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn Eggs, launched last year.

You can read the media release here.

Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn

The new Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn is our commitment to increase the free range egg supply available at Countdown stores for our customers.

Currently just 18% of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown has been steadily increasing our supply to meet customer demand. What this programme means is that our free range and barn egg farmers have certainty that their investment into increasing production will be worth it, and for Countdown it means we have a planned programme to supply these eggs to our customers.

We understand that making a commitment to increase production of free range and barn eggs requires investment and takes time.This programme allows farmers to invest in producing additional capacity, knowing that Countdown will commit to retailing the eggs in future.

Countdown will continue to offer customers a wide range of eggs at different prices for the foreseeable future. It is important to us that customers continue to have choices about the eggs they buy and that affordable eggs are available.

Long-time Countdown free range and barn egg farmers Wholesome NZOtaika ValleyFrenz, and Henergy have joined the Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn since it launched to farmers in July 2016.

Facts about the egg industry in NZ:

  • There are already four egg farmers that have signed up to the Free range and barn Egg producers programme to date (Wholesome NZ, Otaika Valley, Frenz, and Henergy)
  • New Zealand has around 146 egg farms. Barn eggs account for five per cent of eggs produced, and free-range are at 18%*
  • Countdown sells up to 340,000 dozen eggs per week (that’s four million eggs per week)
  • There are 12 free range egg producers stocked on Countdown shelves
  • Presently around 40 per cent of Countdown egg sales are free range or barn eggs and this is growing. This varies significantly store to store, region to region.  
  • The New Zealand egg industry has committed to phasing out conventional cage eggs by 2022, under the Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of 2012 developed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. In place of caged eggs, we are told that the egg industry is investing in new colony cages. The Government regulates the industry, and MPI monitors compliance with this code.  

*Sourced from eggfarmers.org.nz

If you are an egg producer and you’d like any further information about the programme or to find out how to sign up please email us at feedback@countdown.co.nz