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Earth Fare Now 100 Percent 'Cageless' with Eggs

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Earth Fare has committed to selling only fresh eggs from cageless hens, the chain said yesterday. The natural foods supermarket chain's decision will freeze out the only supplier of "caged-hen" eggs it had: a local Abbey.

For Earth Fare customers, the stance it's nothing dramatically new. "We've sold cage-less eggs since the beginning," Troy DeGroff, Earth Fare's dir. of sales and marketing told Progressive Grocer. "The monks were an exception because, although the hens were kept in cages, they were treated extremely well -- the bedding was clean, the cages were stacked using a step system, were not multi-level battery-style cages where the birds defecate on each other. But to commit to a "cage-lass" policy formally, we had to remove them from our supplier list."

What will be new to Earth Fare's customers is the retailer's private label eggs, just launched last week. "We're working with the Latta Farm Ranch, and are now able to offer our private label eggs for $1.99 per dozen, which is much lower than the branded versions," said DeGroff. "They are 'cage-free' but not organic, but we do offer branded organic eggs for customers looking for strictly organic offerings."

According to the Humane Society, approximately 95 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from hens confined in barren "battery cages," wire enclosures so small the birds can't even flap their wings or engage in many other natural behaviors, such as nesting, foraging, perching, and dust bathing.

Just this year, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats eliminated the sale of eggs laid by chickens confined battery cages. Similarly, several universities have also ended or dramatically reduced their sales of cage eggs, including George Washington University, Marist College, Vassar College, University of Arizona, University of Connecticut, American University, and University of Rochester.
-- Joseph Tarnowski
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