Free-range eggs to outsell caged for the first time

Free-range eggs are predicted to outsell eggs from caged hens for the first time this year, according to industry estimates

The British Egg Industry Council said that of the nine billion eggs expected to be laid in the UK in 2012, 49% will come from free-range hens allowed to roam outdoors, compared with 48% from hens stuck in cages. A further 3% will come from ‘barn’ hens that wander around indoor sheds.

In 1995, 86% of British eggs came from battery cages.

On 1 January new standards for caged hens were brought in, meaning that caged hens now have perches and litter for pecking and scratching, but each bird still only has 750cm squared of space – not much more than a sheet of A4 paper.

The RSPCA believes the transformation in our egg-buying habits has been spurred by the introduction eight years ago of compulsory labelling which forced producers to state the method of production.