The customer is always right, they say. If some truth lies in the famous adage, farmers and food companies in China should brace themselves for significant change when it comes to consumer preference and farm animal welfare. Cage-free farming is not a new concept in China: large-scale farms where hens have the freedom to move around have been around since the early 2000s, although cage-free eggs only make up approximately 15% of total SKUs on retailers’ shelves. History shows us that industry change is more often driven by consumer demand than by supply. The future predicts this may be the case for cage-free eggs in China as well.

In early 2021, Lever China and food media agency FoodTalks surveyed Chinese consumers to get a sense of their understanding and opinion about cage-free eggs. The poll found that over 90% think that egg-laying hens should enjoy freedom of movement and be able to express their natural behavior, and almost 70% think eggs used by companies should come from a supply chain that treats animals humanely; 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 survey also details that the health, safety and welfare benefits of cage-free eggs are not to be underestimated as 87% of respondents believe these have food safety and quality advantages and are willing to buy them even at a higher price.

As the survey shows, more and more Chinese consumers are factoring animal welfare into their shopping preferences and are more inclined to support businesses that prioritize the humane treatment of animals. These findings demonstrate a clear opportunity for food brands to win over more customers by catering to the growing demand for more humane eggs and for producers to abandon cruel and unhealthy battery cages and shift to cage-free farms. If the customer is indeed always right, cages might soon become a thing of the past in China.


This work happened because of the support of people like you. Please consider donating today to build a more humane and sustainable protein supply in Asia.