August 12, 2007
Suddenly, the Hunt Is On for Cage-Free Eggs
By KIM SEVERSON
The toy industry had its Tickle Me Elmo, the automakers the Prius and technology its iPhone. Now, the food world has its latest have-to-have-it product: the cage-free egg.
The eggs, from chickens raised in large, open barns instead of stacks of small wire cages, have become the latest addition to menus at universities, hotel chains like Omni and cafeterias at companies like Google. The Whole Foods supermarket chain sells nothing else, and even Burger King is getting in on the trend.
All that demand has meant a rush on cage-free eggs and headaches in corporate kitchens as big buyers learn there may not be enough to go around.
The Vermont ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s got plenty of attention last September when it became the first major food manufacturer to announce it would use only cage-free eggs that have been certified humane by an inspecting organization. But the company says it will need four years to complete the switch.
“It’s not easy to find all the eggs you’re looking for,” said Rob Michalak, a spokesman for Ben and Jerry’s. “The marketplace is one where the supply needs to increase with the demand.”
McDonalds sets standards for beef and Ben and Jerry's has an impact on the freedom of chickens. The world moves and changes in amazing ways. All those animal rights people, unable for decades to force much improvement and now we see the market setting the criterion because it's good business.