Safeway Inc. has furthered its commitment to animal welfare by becoming the first grocery retailer in the United States to make a national commitment to Certified Humane cage-free eggs and by surpassing its sourcing and sales goals in this regard.
In 2008, Safeway began an initiative with existing suppliers to have all Lucerne Cage-Free and O Organics shell eggs sourced from farms that are Certified Humane. In 2010, Safeway announced a goal of increasing sales of cage-free eggs from 6 percent to 12 percent of the shell egg category within two years. Today, more than 15 percent of overall egg sales in the category are cage-free eggs. In addition, the company added the Open Nature label to the Certified Humane program this year. Safeway stated it will continue to expand the campaign as their customers respond to the initiative.
"Safeway's commitment has been unique and impressive," said Adele Douglass, founder and CEO of Humane Farm Animal Care, a nonprofit organization that developed and administers the Certified Humane labeling program for eggs, meat, dairy and poultry products. "Safeway's suppliers had to make the changes necessary to become certified. As a result, Safeway and its suppliers have had a major impact on improving the humane treatment of laying hens in the U.S."
Safeway's Quality Assurance team worked with HFAC in this effort because HFAC is widely known for its comprehensive and trustworthy labeling program, which carries third-party, independent certification for the O Organics and Open Nature Brands. In order to qualify for the Certified Humane label, an egg farm must meet the following animal welfare standards:
- Cages are not permitted and the housing facilities must include areas for hens to nest, dust bath, scratch and perch.
- Animals have ample space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress.
- Animals must have access to ample fresh water and a healthy diet of quality feed with no animal by product.
- Egg lifecycle has no added antibiotics due to hens living in more humane conditions.
"We are supporting traditional farming practices and are committed to improving the welfare of farm animals," said John Larsen, Safeway VP of dairy and refrigerated. "We will continue to work with our suppliers to offer our customers what they have shown us they want to see in our selection. We are determined to move the needle forward for progress across the business. It's the right thing to do."
Safeway will continue to work with suppliers to move forward on increasing their production of cage-free eggs and reward farmers who adopt humane practices.
Safeway Inc. operates 1,644 stores in the United States and western Canada.