Change is afoot in China’s egg industry. A recent survey by Lever China and food media agency FoodTalks among Chinese consumers found that over 90% think that egg-laying hens should enjoy the freedom of movement and be able to express their natural behavior. Additionally, 75% go so far as to say they would be more likely to patronize a food brand that has committed to using only cage-free eggs.

The egg industry in China is taking notice of this consumer trend. Last year, the industry launched the country’s first cage-free egg standard. Despite being the largest egg producer in the world, China previously had no formal standard to define what the term “cage-free eggs” meant. This posed a barrier to food companies who have considered ending the use of caged eggs but worried about the lack of a clear standard for what the term meant. Lever has been working with Chinese producers to support the sector’s efforts to shift away from caged egg production. How? Highlighting the increasing demand for cage-free eggs, introducing them to food companies looking to end the use of caged eggs, and providing expert advice, materials, and contacts to assist in the shift away from caged production. This work is starting to pay off.

Egg Producers in China Head Towards a Cage-Free Future

In November 2022, Lever surveyed 60 Chinese egg farmers. Of these 62% were traditional egg producers, 30% had mixed caged and cage-free facilities and 8% were pure cage-free, with the goal of better understanding the industry’s perception and trends regarding cage-free egg production. Lever’s survey revealed that almost 70% of producers had been approached by clients asking for cage-free egg supply and 75% believe cage-free production will become larger in scale to meet the rising demand from consumers and food companies. What does this mean for the animals? Over 80% of survey respondents said they are starting or considering starting cage-free egg production in 2023, while half of those already cage-free have expansion plans in place. Additionally, all large-scale producers (those housing one million hens or more) are either starting cage-free egg production or are considering doing so. Millions of hens would be able to live free of cages as a result of this change.

As consumers in China increasingly seek out more humane and safe eggs, the sector is taking steps to stay up-to-date with changing consumer habits. This shift will hopefully result in significant improvements for the animals involved, and Lever will continue working towards this goal.


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