Sprouts Farmers Market has committed to sourcing all of its eggs from cage-free, organic or free-range farms.
Phoenix-based Sprouts announced the new egg sourcing policy yesterday, and the company’s website said it went into effect as of December. The measure applies to all shell and liquid eggs sold at the natural and organic retailer’s stores. Sprouts’ own-brand eggs have been cage-free or better since 2016.
“Sprouts shoppers are conscious of where their food comes from, and we’re pleased to now offer cage-free or better eggs across the category as part of our ongoing commitment to improved animal welfare,” Kim Coffin, senior vice president of grocery at Sprouts, said in a statement.
Across Sprouts’ dairy department, organics accounted for more than 40% of the category’s sales volume in 2021, the specialty grocer said. Eighty-one plant-based products and 82 organic items were added during the year, along with 51 products that were both organic and plant-based.
“We’re continuously engaging with suppliers, NGOs and stakeholders to ensure our policies and targets for continuous improvement are meaningful and help drive the industry forward,” Coffin added.
On egg cartons sold at Sprouts, animal welfare classifications for laying hens include cage-fee, free-range and pasture-raised, among others. Cage-free indicates that the flock was able to freely roam in a building, room or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle. Regulated by the USDA, free-range designates that the hens were sheltered in a building, room or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water and continuous access to the outdoors (including areas fenced in and/or covered with netting-like material).
For pasture-raised, the HFAC Certified Humane requirement is 1,000 birds per 2.5 acres, and the fields must be rotated, Sprouts said. Hens also must be outdoors year-round and have mobile or fixed housing where they can go inside at night for protection from predators. They can also be housed indoors for up to two weeks due to inclement weather.
Sprouts has set several targets for sourcing chickens — for the meat case, rotisserie and prepared foods — through collaboration with its supplier partners. By 2024, the retailer aims to improve the environment for chickens, including litter, lighting and enrichments in line with the Better Chicken Commitment standards, designed to encourage the natural behavior of chickens. Sprouts said that by 2025 it also plans to reduce stocking density to 6 pounds per square foot and prohibit broiler cages, in order to allow chickens more room to move. The company noted that 17% of its supply already meets that measure.
Also, by 2026, Sprouts said it aims to source chickens processed in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling and instead uses a multi-step, controlled-atmosphere processing system that induces an irreversible stun (CAS). The company noted that this more humane technology provides a less stressful experience and contributes to improved animal welfare, better processing conditions and higher-quality meat. As of 2021, more than 17% of the chicken sold at Sprouts was processed through CAS facilities, and the grocer plans to boost that percentage to more than 60% by 2024 and 100% by 2026.
Overall, Sprouts Farmers Market operates more than 370 stores in 23 states across the country.