Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville said Tuesday that its Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club U.S. stores aim to transition to a 100 percent cage-free egg supply chain by 2025.
The retailer said it was making the move to maintain affordable prices while improving the food supply.
"Our customers and associates count on Walmart and Sam's Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised," Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart, said in a news release. "Our commitment to transition to a cage-free egg supply chain recognizes that expectation and represents another step we are taking to improve transparency for food we sell in our U.S. stores and clubs."
Wal-Mart has offered customers the option of cage free eggs in its U.S. stores since 2001.
Other big grocery chains have made similar committments, including Albertsons, Kroger and Supervalu. Fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's announced its cage-free plans in September.
"Since September, when McDonald's announced its cage-free policy, we knew that we had turned the corner in the fight against battery cages," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the U.S., wrote on the organization's blog. "But today, that debate ends, and the trajectory of this debate is clear. The era of confining hens in cages in America’s food system is officially sunsetting."
Wal-Mart said will continue to work with farmers as it moves toward a cage-free egg supply chain and will collaborate with suppliers, government agencies, academics, NGOs, animal health companies and veterinary experts to improve how food sold to its U.S. customers is grown and raised.
Wal-Mart's cage-free goal includes requirements that 100 percent of shell egg suppliers be certified and compliant with United Egg Producers (UEP) Animal Husbandry Guidelines or equivalent standard. It also said it will challenge suppliers to use selective breeding practices and best management practices to improve the health and welfare of laying hens.
The retailer said it will monitor and report on suppliers' improvement against those metrics through its Sustainability Index.