PepsiCo, one of the world's largest food manufacturers, has pledged to use only cage-free eggs in its products by 2020 in the U.S. and by 2025 internationally. Other major companies are making similar announcements, including Trader Joe's, Target, and CVS.
While the term "cage-free" may conjure up images of chickens frolicking freely in grassy fields, that's not actually the case. Egg classification falls on a spectrum, and the cage-free label means the hens who laid these eggs were allowed to roam freely in an enclosed space. But that does not guarantee they spent anytime outdoors.
The cage-free label means the hens who laid these eggs were allowed to roam freely in an enclosed space.
To make matters worse, the companies selling these cage-free eggs aren't doing it solely out of a moral or ethical obligation to treat animals better. Cage-free eggs are a huge moneymaker. On average, they cost 15 cents more per dozen to produce than the standard kind, but they can fetch double the price on store shelves. (The national average for a dozen cage-free eggs is $3.42 compared with $1.45 for conventional eggs.)
All of this info can leave you feeling duped (that's how we felt when we learned about it too). Similar terms like "free-range" only make things more confusing, so we put together a handy list of definitions to check out before you buy another dozen eggs. Click the button below to check it out!