“What we eat shapes the future of the environment. We are excited to share that we will be collaborating with Lever Foundation, a global NGO, to lead the way toward a more humane and ethical supply chain by committing to using only cage-free eggs.”
It’s 8:00 am in Hong Kong. A 45-year-old woman in sharp attire sits down to an important business breakfast. Waiting on her business contact to arrive, she orders a cup of tea and thanks the waiter with a nod. Before returning to emails on her phone, she notices a small sentence written on the bottom page of the breakfast menu: “All of our eggs are cage-free.”
Large hotels source an average of 300,000 eggs per year per hotel. For the typical visitor the difference between caged and cage-free eggs may not always seem significant, but for egg-laying hens the difference is enormous. Hens confined in cages spend their lives with less floor space than that of an A4 sheet of paper, prevented from expressing natural behaviors such as walking, spreading their wings, nesting, dust bathing and foraging. In addition to the stress and physical limitations caused by lifelong confinement, caged hens show higher rates of metabolic disorders, foot injuries and other ailments. In addition to the animal welfare implications, the European Food Safety Authority has also found that caged egg farms are up to 25 times more likely to be contaminated with key strains of salmonella.
For the last several years Lever has been working with hotel chains in Hong Kong to encourage and assist with a shift away from caged eggs. As recently as 2020 only one quarter of hotel groups operating in Hong Kong had a cage-free pledge, and not a single Hong Kong-based hospitality group had such a commitment. Today, the sector has reached a new landmark: 75% of hospitality groups in Hong Kong have pledged to end the use of caged eggs across their global supply chains thanks to Lever’s work. This represents the first time ever that the majority of a food industry in a given region in Asia has committed to a farm animal welfare improvement.
After getting Hong Kong-based hospitality groups Langham Hotel Group, the Peninsula Hotels, and Mandarin Oriental to make this pledge in previous years, in recent months Lever has persuaded ten additional hospitality groups to commit to phasing out caged eggs: Dorsett Hospitality International, Nina Hospitality, Regal Hotels International, SHKP Hotels, Sino Hotels Group, Swire Hotels and The Harilela Group, Miramar Group, Lan Kwai Fong Group and New World Development. A number of these new commitments were generated in the run-up to the release of Lever’s 2022 Hong Kong Hospitality Industry Cage-Free Scorecard, which reported on the progress of the domestic hotel industry in ending cruel cage confinement. Of note, all commitments occurred in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the severe challenges it posed to Hong Kong’s tourism sector.
All told these commitments will improve the lives of the roughly 200,000 laying hens in the global supply chains of these Hong Kong-based hospitality groups, covering both their Hong Kong locations as well as their hotels elsewhere in Asia and beyond. This progress in Hong Kong’s hospitality industry also sets an excellent precedent for hospitality groups elsewhere in Asia to follow.
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.