Animal right activists are currently pushing legislation to mandate the sale of only cage-free eggs in Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado and Maine, reported Chad Gregory, president, United Egg Producers. He told the audience at the United Egg Producers Committee Briefings and Board Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 27, 2020, that the target dates for implementation of these new state legislative initiatives would be December 31, 2024.

Cage-free housing legislation that mandates sale of only cage-free eggs has already been passed in six U.S. states: California, Washington, Oregon, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Michigan, which were home to an estimated 21.2% of Americans in 2019. Implementation dates of these cage-free egg sale requirements range from January 2022 to January 2026.

Gregory encouraged U.S. egg producers to have open dialog with their customers regarding cage-free egg purchase intentions. As the dates for action on cage-free egg purchase pledges get closer, it is imperative for egg producers to understand how their customers plan to act. Will they ramp up cage-free egg purchases in advance of the pledge fulfillment date, or will they let the end users of the eggs, consumers, make the decision for them?

U.S. egg producers have overshot demand for cage-free eggs at present. They have added cage-free housing faster than the market wanted it, but at a slower rate than would be needed to meet future cage-free egg purchase pledges coming due in the next few years. Guessing wrong on the timing of investments in new cage-free housing is costly for producers. The only way for egg producers to minimize the risk of getting the timing wrong on cage-free investments is to have open dialog with their customers. The only way for egg buyers to ensure they have the type of eggs they want when they want them is to have that dialog.