Is egg production in Europe about to undergo another significant shift in production methods? Major supermarket chains in the U.K. have pledged to sell only eggs from cage-free hens.

Read the entire report about Europe's egg production exclusively in the October issue of Poultry International.

Also, U.S. and Australian retailers, restaurant chains and processors have made similar commitments, possibly indicating a more far-reaching shift in egg production methods.

Europe banned conventional, or battery, cages with effect from January 2012. Legally, any cages still used in Europe must now be enriched – offering certain welfare benefits compared with battery cages. Producers were largely free to adopt enriched cage, barn or free-range egg production systems. Whichever method was chosen by Europe’s egg producers, the switch necessitated a significant investment and brought temporary uncertainty to the market. While most egg producers must have thought the upheaval was behind them, uncertainty and change would appear to have returned to the horizon.

The European egg industry may now be in compliance with the law but, as retailer demands shift, they are becoming increasingly out of step with market forces, and could be about to face a repeat performance of the run up to 2012. And now, U.K. egg producers face a challenge.

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