CAGES in animal farming should be phased out, starting with 'enriched' cages for laying hens.

In a joint letter to the EU Commission and Members of the EU Parliament, food companies across the EU have made their case for caging animals to be ruled out.

ALDI Nord, Barilla Group, Fattoria Roberti (egg producer), Ferrero, Inter IKEA Group, Jamie Oliver Group, Le Groupement Les Mousquetaires (French retailer), Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and Unilever co-signed the letter which emphasises that the business case for phasing out enriched cages for laying hens was strong, particularly at EU level. It noted that 'cage-free systems are widespread, economically viable, and provide better living conditions for hens'.

The signatories stressed that the revision of the animal welfare legislation, which is currently under preparation, is the ideal opportunity to end the use of cages in animal farming across the EU – starting with caged laying hens. They also stated: “We are ready and willing to share our expertise and collaborate on achieving that goal.

“Many businesses are already ahead of the game, having phased out cages in their supply chains. A cage-free future is possible and is already being enabled by some progressive companies," said Olga Kikou, head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).

“The EU now needs to catch up and revise the legislation for farmed animals, Directive 98/58/EC, so that the cruel use of cages is brought to an end, for all farmed species.”

Director of food business at Compassion in World Farming, Dr Tracey Jones, added: “It’s great to have these leading businesses supporting our call to phase out cages for laying hens across the EU, but given Brexit, we must maintain pressure on the UK government too.

“In the UK, all the major supermarkets have either ended the sale of eggs from caged hens or have committed to do so by 2025. We need UK legislation, however, to be in place to eliminate all caged production and to stop the import of eggs, particularly ingredient egg, from caged systems.

“We have a newly established good barn standard in the UK for laying hens and a high level of free-range production which we must support for both shell and ingredient eggs.”