Three of the largest food services companies each announced in recent weeks that they would purchase liquid eggs exclusively from cage-free poultry facilities by 2020.
French company Sodexo, Philadelphia-based Aramark and North Carolina-based Compass Group USA each previously pledged to source their shelled eggs from cage-free sources; animal welfare advocates said adding liquid eggs to that pledge would effectively remove another 3.5 million chickens from cages.
Compass Group USA made the announcement this week, following Aramark last week and Sodexo's U.S. operations last month.
Sodexo also said it would eliminate the use of veal crates in its supply chain by 2017, while Aramark said a forthcoming animal welfare agreement would address its sourcing of pork, veal, beef, poultry and dairy products.
“We see animal welfare, including these new measures for cage-free eggs and crate-free veal, as a key component of a sustainable supply chain alongside food safety, food security, nutrition and science-based environmental practices," said Sodexo sustainability executive Deborah Hecker.
The Humane Society of the United States, which partnered with food service companies on several of the policies, called the events "an epic past two weeks for egg-laying chickens.'
"The message to the rest of the food retail sector and also to the egg industry is clear. The era of confining hens in cages is on the way out," wrote HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. "The era of confining hens in cages is on the way out. Forward-thinking food companies are going cage-free, and it’s time for the rest to get on board."