Wild Oats Making Egg Suppliers Go Cage-Free
Wild Oats Markets Inc., the third-largest natural foods grocer in the
United States, said Tuesday it will require all its suppliers of eggs to
remove their chickens from cages and allow them to roam free within
their chicken coops.
Wild Oats (Nasdaq: OATS) is based in Boulder. The policy will be
enforced for suppliers to the company's 75 Wild Oats Natural
Marketplaces located in 23 states.
The company said it sold 1.6 million cartons of eggs in 2004.
Wild Oats operates more than 100 stores under various names in 24 states
and British Columbia. Annual sales in 2004 were $1.05 billion.
Wild Oats worked with the Humane Society of the United States, based in
Washington, D.C., to craft the new policy.
While some U.S. companies, such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's,
have asked their egg suppliers to increase cage space, this announcement
makes Wild Oats the nation's first major chain to formally implement a
cage-free corporate policy for chickens of its eggs suppliers, the
humane society said in a statement.
"Demand for improving the welfare of farm animals has never been
higher," said Perry Odak, resident and CEO of Wild Oats, in a statement.
"We are hopeful that our decision not to approve egg farmers who use
caged birds for our national and regional product lists will encourage
the egg industry to move in the direction of phasing out its use of
battery cages, and shifting toward cage-free methods that take the
animals' welfare into account," Odak's statement said.
Approximately 98 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from
birds confined in what are called "battery cages," which are so small
the animals cannot spread their wings.
"Birds in battery cages suffer immensely. Wild Oats has taken a bold
step by avoiding the sale of eggs from caged birds, and we
enthusiastically applaud their efforts to help reduce animal suffering,"
said Paul Shapiro, the humane society's factory farming campaign