Helping Asia’s food industry shift away from the worst factory farming practices requires engagement on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.
While Lever works primarily on the corporate demand side, it is clear that restaurants, retailers and other food companies are much more open to committing to improvements like removing caged confinement from their supply chain when alternative options are readily available. In countries like China where the vast majority of egg production is done using battery cages, this makes increasing the availability of cage-free eggs—by persuading producers to remove cages from existing barns or planned new constructions—an important element for securing corporate commitments and shifting the industry away from caged confinement.
For that reason, Lever has been working for the past two years to encourage egg producers in China to shift toward cage-free production. This work includes engaging directly with mid-size and large producers, highlighting for them the increasing demand for cage-free, 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. Lever also secures regular coverage in agricultural trade media outlets on the momentum toward cage-free, case studies of producers making the switch, and similar topics. Through its work, Lever has been able to persuade multiple producers in China to make their next barn cage-free.
One example from the past year is Donghua, a mid-sized producer with 300,000 hens. While company owner Mr. Xu was aware animal welfare was important to European consumers, he didn’t think the concern was relevant in China, so he housed all hens in battery cages. From working with Lever, he learned many companies in China had committed to sourcing only cage-free eggs, including (thanks to Lever) major supermarkets to which Donghua was already supplying caged eggs. As a result, Mr. Xu decided that when his company built its next egg barn, it would do so without using cages. In June 2022, Donghua began construction on its next barn and true to plan, left cages out of the picture. The 50,000 hens housed there will live free of confinement in cruel cages.
Another such case from the past year is Xinde, a mid-sized egg producer founded by brother and sister Hu Minjie and Shiliin Manli. The Xinde team met with Lever to discuss how they could take market share away from caged eggs. Lever outlined the opportunities for cage-free eggs in China and in export markets, introducing the company to new potential customers and distributors. As a result, Xinde shifted to fully cage-free commercial production, meaning 100,000 laying hens on the company’s farms in Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces will be spared a life of caged confinement.
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.