Costco announced this week that it will eventually source only cage-free eggs, becoming the first major grocery chain to do so in about 10 years. Whole Foods is currently the only other grocery chain that sources 100% cage-free eggs. Costco did not set a timeline for when the transition would be fully implemented.
“Costco is committed to going cage-free for its egg procurement,” company said in a statement. “We are working with our suppliers toward a complete and sustainable transition to a cage-free supply chain. This transition, however, will take time because currently over 90% of the supply of eggs is from caged hens and because other retailers and restaurants are also moving to cage-free requirements, placing greater demands on the limited supply.”
Since 2006, Costco said it has substantially increased the percentage of cage-free eggs it offers. In fiscal 2006, cage-free eggs represented 2% of eggs sold at Costco, while today they represent 26%.
“In calendar 2016, we expect to sell over 1 billion cage free eggs,” the company said.
In August, Costco chief executive officer Craig Jelinek told FOXBusiness.com that his company was being unfairly targeted after The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a video in New York's Times Square that showed chickens in cages and stated, “Costco lets its suppliers lock chickens in cages.”
“This has been going on for about two to three months. We probably are the largest seller of cage-free eggs in the United States. The society (HSUS) would like us to give them a timeline as to when we will be all cage-free, and we are not prepared to do that,” Jelinek said in an email to FOXBusiness.com.
Costco also received pressure from celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Bill Maher, who called on the company to live up to its promise of cage-free.