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May 30, 2014

Market Opportunities Rising for Cage-Free Egg Production in Costa Rica

Humane Society International/Latin America

  • HSI

Food industry and animal welfare experts discussed consumers’ growing preference for cage-free eggs in Costa Rica and worldwide, during Humane Society International’s workshop on “Market Opportunities for Cage-Free Egg Production.”

Consumers in Costa Rica are increasingly concerned about the way animals are treated in food production and are opting for higher welfare products. In recent years, HSI’s  Latin America office has observed an increase in the number of food retail companies in the region moving away from conventional battery cage eggs in their supply chain, and offering higher welfare cage-free eggs.

The multinational company Unilever, which has committed to using only cage-free eggs globally by 2020, including in its products sold in Costa Rica, issued a statement at the workshop that said in part: “We take animal welfare seriously, as an social and ethical concern…If we want to reach our goal of being 100% cage-free by 2020, we need to expand our network of producers who meet these highest standards. We’ve committed to adapting our list of products globally, including in Latin America, but in order to do so, we need local cage-free production…The ability to work with local suppliers who have adapted to international cage-free egg production standards will be of benefit to purchasers like us, as well as suppliers, who can offer a specialized and sustainable service for businesses and consumers who care about animal welfare.”

Cynthia Dent, HSI director for Latin America, said: “We’re excited to bring together the food industry, egg producers, and the tourism sector to discuss the growing market opportunities for cage-free eggs in Costa Rica. We work with food companies in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America toward the adoption of higher welfare cage-free purchasing policies. Many multinational food companies, including Burger King, Subway, and Starbucks, already are using cage-free eggs in their U.S. or European locations.  More and more consumers in Costa Rica are choosing higher welfare products and increasing the demand for cage-free eggs.”

Pablo Fernández S., sustainability consultant and adviser to Adaptarse and Apronad, workshop supporter and corporate social responsibility organization, said in his presentation: "Animal welfare is a right that essentially commits us as people, and caring about this work is also the social responsibility of entrepreneurs. For this reason opportunities for improvement in the restaurant industry are limitless."

The Costa Rican Restaurant Chamber also attended and presented at the event.  Alejandro Madrigal, executive director, said: “Value added gastronomy is a requirement in Costa Rica’s tourism industry and brand. We require the cultural revitalization of each region, and gastronomic ventures that generate employment options for families throughout the country with sustainable and health qualities. The production, supply and demand for cage-free eggs are examples of opportunities targeted towards a cuisine with a Costa Rican identity.

Facts:

  • In conventional egg production, hens are often confined in metal battery cages, so small that they cannot even fully stretch their wings. In battery cages, each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper to spend her entire life.
  • In cage-free egg production, animals have more space to walk around, stretch their wings and express other important natural behaviors.
  • Conventional battery cages were banned in the European Union in 2012.
  • Three U.S. states – Michigan, California, and Ohio – have approved laws to restrict the confinement of hens in cages.
  • Most Indian states have recently declared that the use of battery cages is a violation of the country’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and India is debating a national ban.
  • The Australian Capital Territory also recently banned the use of conventional battery cages.

Media Contact:  Raúl Arce-Contreras; +1 (301) 721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org.

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