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Immediate ban on eggs from caged hens as Morrisons moves to free range only

An immediate, total ban on eggs from caged hens has been brought in by Morrisons - one of the first major UK supermarkets to move completely to free range.

A total ban on eggs from caged hens has been introduced by Morrisons. Credit: PA

It comes two years ahead of the retailer’s target of 2022, and will also see stores drop the price of a punnet of six free range eggs from 80p to 75p.

It joins the Co-operative and Waitrose, which have been selling only free range eggs in stores for more than a decade.

“Improving animal welfare is very important to customers and it’s very important to us,” Morrisons egg buyer, Robert Hofmann, said.

10m
eggs sold each week in Morrisons stores
20%
were previously from caged hens

“We source our eggs directly from farms and have worked hard to help them all move to free range.”

The new ban means Morrisons eggs will only come from hens who have outdoor access for at least eight hours a day, usually during daylight hours, as well as nest boxes with wide perches and spaces for scratching and dust bathing.

From today, Morrisons will only sell eggs from free range hens. Credit: Morrisons

In 2016, after a campaign by teenager Lucy Gavaghan, the supermarket promised to move away from caged eggs by 2025, and subsequently reduced their target to 2022.

The company said it has doubled the number of free-range farmers which supply its egg packing business, which has allowed it to move to fully free range even sooner.

It says it is still working to ensure 100% of eggs used as ingredients in other products are also free range by 2025.

The move will affect around a fifth of its egg sales. It typically sells around 10 million eggs a week, and says around two million of these previously came from caged hens.

Dr Tracey Jones, from campaign group Compassion in World Farming, welcomed the move.

It’s great to see Morrisons achieving their commitment to be 100% free range on shell eggs ahead of their 2022 target.

Momentum on ending the use of cages for laying hens is growing and Morrisons are leading the way.

Importantly, they also have a 2025 cage-free commitment on the eggs that go into processed and ingredient foods.

– Dr Tracey Jones, director of food business, Compassion in World Farming

Co-op made the move to fully free range eggs 12 years ago, and has only used free range eggs as ingredients in its own-brand products since 2010.

Sainsbury's announced last year it would be going 100% free range as of April; while Tesco, Aldi and Asda all said they were working towards a target of 2025.

Meanwhile, a Waitrose spokeswoman said their own-label eggs had been free range since 2006, while all own-label products which used eggs as ingredients had come from free range hens since 2008.

All our own-label eggs come from free range hens, who have lots of room to roam in grassy paddocks and are reared by British farmers we know and trust.

Our welfare standards mean we’ve held Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg Award since 2008.

– Waitrose spokeswoman

ITV News Central has also asked Waitrose to clarify whether non-own-label eggs are free range too.