8 Oct 2016

Protester, 12, calls for count-down on cage eggs

2:45 pm on 8 October 2016

A 12-year-old girl is spearheading a campaign for Countdown supermarkets to follow the Australian parent company and phase out selling cage eggs.

Eggs and how we farm them - Checkpoint

Photo: RNZ / YouTube

Maja Skilling started [https://www.change.org/p/dave-chambers-managing-director-countdown-countdown-please-stop-selling-cage-eggs

an online petition] this year, which has been backed by almost 18,000 people.

Countdown launched a new programme in August to support free range and barn eggs.

However, backed by animal rights organisation SAFE, Maja Skilling protested outside an Auckland Countdown this week saying it was not enough.

"Their parent company Woolworths in Australia has pledged to be cage-free by 2018. So we thought it would be logical for Countdown in New Zealand to follow the lead of their parent company in Australia and also go cage-free."

She said other major companies overseas such as Tesco, Walmart and ALBI had committed to phasing it out as well as all Austrian and Dutch supermarkets.

Maja said she had plenty of support from around the country.

She was not asking to go cage free overnight but was asking the company to set a target for when they would, she said.

A Countdown spokesperson said the company had spoken to Maja directly about it and told her they were committed to increasing the amount of free range and barn eggs on its shelves.

However, it said there were some challenges to stopping cage egg sales altogether, including from New Zealand's current suppliers.

"Only 18 percent are free range so we'd need to find 144 million dozen free range for Countdown alone. And we sell only 20 percent of eggs in New Zealand."

It said affordability was also an issue for its customers with only a minority calling for free range.

It said market research found almost 70 percent of their customers supported having a choice.