Views Mixed on Cage-Free, Regular Eggs

WASHINGTON — Scanner data indicates American consumers buy “regular” eggs over cage-free eggs by a margin of 40 to 1, according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, but surveys indicate that they prefer roomier housing for laying hens.

WASHINGTON — Scanner data indicates American consumers buy “regular” eggs over cage-free eggs by a margin of 40 to 1, according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, but surveys indicate that they prefer roomier housing for laying hens.

The information, gleaned from scanner data from 34,000 grocery, drug and mass merchandiser stores across the country, was presented at a meeting of the United Egg Producers, a farmer cooperative and trade association that represents America’s egg producers.

In other research reported at the meeting, a nationwide survey of Americans showed that while consumers still overwhelmingly buy “regular” eggs over cage-free or organic eggs, they also support the use of “enriched colony housing” systems that are being phased in by many European egg farmers.

In general, Americans pay three times less for eggs than Europeans do, so cost could be a factor in their purchase of regular eggs from hens in traditional housing.

Nonetheless, some American supermarkets have committed to sourcing more cage-free eggs. All Wal-Mart Stores [2] and Costco [3] private-brand eggs are cage-free, and Safeway [4], Harris Teeter [5] and Winn-Dixie Stores [6] have policies to increase their cage-free egg sales, according to a report from the Humane Society of the United States.

Read More of Today's Headlines [7]