China Agriculture Press, operated by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the country’s largest publisher of agriculture-related books, has released this month a new guidebook on commercial-scale cage-free egg production. The book, titled “Commercial Cage-Free Egg Production” and written by Huang Mutzu of Shanghai-based consultancy group Lever China in collaboration with the Beijing Egg Industry Association, professor at China Agriculture University and domestic egg producers, was released this month at the country’s annual China Egg Industry Summit. Its publication comes amid an upswing of interest in cage-free eggs from Chinese consumers, food companies and producers.
"In China, in addition to the changes brought to the egg industry by consumer upgrades, many multinational food companies are planning to fully shift their egg supply chains to cage-free products by 2025, which is closely related to our immediate interests and deserves the attention of industry colleagues," said Wang Zhongqiang, secretary general of the Beijing Egg Industry Association.
Mutzu Huang, program manager at Lever China and author of the new book, commented: With the increase in demand from both the corporate and consumer sides, we wanted to ensure that egg producers have the tools to prepare their farms for the shift to cage-free production. The book is a science-driven but highly practical guide that producers can follow to produce cage-free eggs at a large scale while attending to animal welfare, food safety and price considerations.”
The guidebook covers air quality, ventilation control, bedding and behavior management, chick rearing, lighting, intestinal health, and other important elements of commercial cage-free production.
A study conducted last year by Chinese media outlet FTA found that 75% of Chinese consumers say they are more likely to patronize brands that use cage-free eggs, and 67% think food companies should commit to sourcing only cage-free eggs. Over 80 leading food companies in the country, including domestic restaurant chains and retailers such as Zoo Group, CityShop and CitySuper as well as international brands active in China including Starbucks, Bakkavor, Burger King, Costco and Marriott Group, have set timelines for using only cage-free eggs in China. A market study published last year by Lever China found demand for cage-free eggs in China will increase by at least 1.8 billion eggs per year as a result of existing corporate cage-free commitments. In response to the shift, nearly half of the top 20 egg producers in China are now offering or expanding cage-free egg lines.