Written evidence submitted by the Good
Food for Our Money Campaign |
The Good Food for Our Money campaign, run by Sustain,
believes that the EU Council Directive 1999/74/EC: the welfare
of laying hens will provide a welcome and much needed financial
boost for the British egg industry. It will also satisfy British
consumer opinion which has swung against conventional egg production.
Our views are:
Directive will reward British producers that have moved away from
Directive reflects the opinion of British consumers who have moved
away from buying conventional eggs and now buy more free range
and organic eggs.
must further support the British egg industry, and promote higher
standards of animal welfare in egg production, by introducing
compulsory standards for eggs purchased in the public sector.
should be noted that the welfare of laying hens in enriched cage
systems is still compromised (see note 5).
2. ABOUT SUSTAIN:
Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and
practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals,
improve the working and living environment, enrich society and
culture and promote equity. We represent around 100 national public
interest organisations (listed here http://www.sustainweb.org/membership/sustain_members_list/) working at international, national, regional and local level.
3. THE GOOD
The Good Food for Our Money Campaign represents a
coalition of organisations that are calling on government to introduce
compulsory health, environmental and ethical standards for all
public sector food. The coalition is comprised of 57 national
organisations including the National Federation of Women's Institutes,
the Royal Society for Public Health, the Campaign to Protect Rural
England, Compassion in World Farming, WWF UK, Marine Stewardship
Council and the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health.
For more information about the campaign please go to:
The Good Food for Our Money Campaign believes that
the Directive will have a positive effect on British egg production,
food processing and manufacturing sector. The ban on the production
of conventional battery eggs will provide a boost for the British
egg industry by steering consumers in the UK and in the EU to
British eggs and egg products that have moved to production systems
beyond conventional cages in accordance with the Directive and,
even further, to systems with higher standards of animal welfare
e.g. free range. It should be noted that the NFU has calculated
that producers in the UK have already spent £400 million
to meet or exceed the specifications in the Directive.
More widely, the consumer trend in the UK towards
free-range and organic eggs has resulted in a strong supply base
and supply chain for these products in this country. Market data
from 2008 show that 47% of the UK egg market is for non-caged
eggs, and that sales of free range eggs grew by 12% on the previous
year - a trend that has continued.
Concern about animal welfare standards in conventional
caged systems has been largely responsible for the swing in British
consumer opinion resoundingly against caged eggs. This is reflected
in the fact that Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and
the Co-op have already taken action and banned the sale of caged
eggs from their stores.
5. ENRICHED CAGE
It should be noted that the welfare of laying hens
in enriched cage systems is still compromised. Hens in enriched
cages are still not fully free to dust bathe, peck or lay eggs
in a natural way. A barn or free-range system is the only way
to ensure hens can fully express their natural behaviour.
6. DEFRA SUPPORT
It is crucial that government leads by example by
purchasing eggs in the public sector that promote animal welfare
and support British farmers. To ensure this, the Department of
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) must introduce a requirement
that prohibits all public sector institutions from buying eggs
that do not meet the standards in this Directive and requires
them to instead buy more barn and free range eggs.
A Good Food for Our Money Campaign investigation
in 2009 found that nine out of ten eggs purchased in the public
sector are from caged hens.
This should be considered in the context that 63% of people in
the UK would prefer their local council to use eggs from cage-free
TNS figures produced for the British Egg Information Service. Back
The figure quoted is based on Compassion in World Farming's "Good
Egg Award" project where, in 2009, 40 local authorities had
declared themselves "cage free" from a total of 468
local authorities in the UK. This does not include hospitals,
which have responsibility for their own food procurement. Back
YouGov poll, June 2010. Back