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As the leading South African retailer refuses to remove cruel cages from egg supply chains despite months of public engagement

Leading retailer in the fast-moving consumer goods industry in South Africa, Pick n Pay faces growing consumer pressure as a public cage-free campaign is launched by animal protection organisations in Africa. According to Zwelisha Shobede from the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), a leading member of The Open Wing Alliance, in Cape Town, South Africa, “Despite continued attempts to negotiate with Pick n Pay, the company has refused to join worldwide food industry momentum to commit to transition to 100% cage-free systems for the egg-laying hens raised in its supply chains.”

As part of the campaign, The Open Wing Alliance has released groundbreaking footage showing the deplorable state of the battery cage farms where Pick n Pay sources their eggs. This is why local member organisations are urging concerned customers to sign and share the petition against Pick n Pay’s cruelty toward animals. An estimated 60.7% of Africa’s 200 million hens are raised in caged systems. There is a distinctive link between eggs produced in battery caged facilities and public health risks like the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Avian flu and antibiotic resistance. Caged systems promote fear, poor bone health, high levels of reproductive disease, and extreme stress in egg-laying hens.

Pick n Pay operates through multiple store formats under three brands, including Pick n Pay, Boxer, and TM Supermarkets. The well-known retailer also runs one of the largest online grocery platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, operating in 8 countries namely South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Nigeria, Eswatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

“In 2022, several other leading food businesses in Africa (76 in total) have committed to stop animal cruelty by making a cage free commitment. These include popular companies such as Nando’s, City Lodge Hotel Group, and Famous Brands. We need Pick n Pay to join the rest of the food industry in stopping their cruel practices through signing and announcing a cage free commitment across all of their operations in Africa,” says  Zwelisha Shobede of  SAFCEI.”

Many companies are already abandoning cages in response to consumer demand. And in a massive win for the campaign, last week Famous Brands announced that they have achieved their commitment and are now 100% cage-free, 3 years ahead of their original timeline.

Around the world, more than 2,400 cage-free commitments - 147 of which are global policies - have been made by some of the largest companies, including Nestlé,  InterContinental Hotels, Sodexo, Kraft Heinz, Compass Group, Shake Shack, Costa Coffee, Burger King, Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, Unilever, and Barilla. As of 2022, 88% of all cage-free egg commitments with deadlines of 2021 or earlier have been fulfilled.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of cage-free eggs, and are demanding change worldwide. The majority of egg-laying hens spend their lives in tiny, cramped cages, unable to ever spread their wings or fully raise their necks.  Globally, over 6 billion hens are still kept in these caged systems which promote fear, poor bone health, high levels of reproductive disease, and extreme stress. They also raise major food safety concerns for consumers. In terms of health benefits, pasture-reared hens have shown to lay eggs with a significant vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. These health benefits are argued to be due to the hens’ standard diet which include grass, worms and insects.” says Shobede.

For more information about The Open Wing Alliance, please visit Follow along with the cage-free movement on Twitter @GlobalCageFree.