A Survey Of Corporate Cage-Free Commitments In Latin America
As consumers, we have the power to choose food products created without animal suffering. However, these purchases represent only one point along a complex and murky global supply chain that can obscure cruel practices. For this reason, animal welfare groups are holding companies accountable for their animal welfare claims to ensure transparency and progress. Sinergia Animal is one such example: they are an animal advocacy NGO based in Latin America, working with food companies to eliminate battery hen cages in their egg supply chains. They aim to grow the number of companies committed to cage-free policies as well as reporting on each company’s progress each year.
Sinergia Animal’s latest report covers the progress they’ve made in their efforts for hens up to 2020. In it, they note that there are currently 240 companies committed to sourcing cage-free eggs in Latin America. Sinergia researchers surveyed 63 of these companies with policies that apply on a national level in Chile, Colombia, and Argentina. 10 companies published policies less than six months before the start of the survey, and were exempt from participating in this year’s evaluation. Eleven companies did not have available contact information.
Of the 42 that were contacted, one-third (14) reported progress: nine from Colombia, two from Chile, three multinational corporations, and none from Argentina; over half (22) did not respond; six responded but did not provide clear data.
The results of the completed surveys found progress in most of the surveyed companies’ purchasing decisions:
- Egg Sources: Most companies reported that over 90% of the fresh eggs they use are already cage-free, with Barilla, La Clementina, Colomer, Jeno’s Pizza, Mikaela, Oma, Presto, Servihoteles, and Vapiano (in Colombia) reporting 100% cage-free fresh eggs. Barilla further reported 100% cage-free egg use across egg types, including eggs as ingredients, processed eggs, and shell eggs.
- Egg usage:Companies committed to transitioning to completely cage-free eggs by 2022 will purchase 253,000 eggs in total. Companies committed to a 2025 deadline will purchase 102,576 eggs in total in completing their transition.
- Awareness: Nine out of 13 companies reported plans to raise awareness about their cage-free policies to staff and the general public.
- Suppliers: Twelve out of 13 companies reported that “they had already identified and contacted cage-free egg suppliers”.
However, some companies reported some ongoing obstacles in obtaining cage-free eggs, namely the higher cost compared to the caged alternative as well as lower availability:
- Cost: Five out of 14 companies identified higher costs of cage-free eggs compared to caged eggs.
- Availability: Two out of 14 companies identified a limited supply of cage-free eggs on the market. One company said it was difficult to find processed cage-free eggs in their operating regions, and a company also said it was hard to find cage-free eggs in medium and small cities.
- None: Three out of 14 companies did not face any challenges in the transition process.
Sinergia Animal noted that fresh eggs saw further progress than the other two egg types, and committed to further researching the use of other egg types and potential need to focus cage-free advocacy efforts on those products. Researchers will continue to reach out to companies participating in cage-free transitions, including the ten that were excluded from this year’s survey due to beginning their transition less than six months prior.
Sinergia Animal also stated their wish to see company transparency to increase “dramatically” in future annual surveys, and that they will use social media and national & regional media outlets to report on companies as they continue to improve their procurement practices — or not.