Aldi Australia, the “discount supermarket offering great quality at incredibly low prices,” has become the target of RSPCA Australia, with the welfare group turning up the heat on the supermarket chain due to its choice of eggs.

The RSPCA’s problem is that the supermarket is still stocking eggs from caged birds and, apparently, shoppers are “venting their outrage.”

The RSPCA has been campaigning to bring an end to caged layers in Australia with its “Hens Deserve Better” campaign. It says that, of the country’s 16.3 million laying hens, 11 million are still kept in cages.

And it wants Aldi to follow in the footsteps of its competitors Coles and Woolworths. Coles stopped selling cage eggs under its branded lines two years ago, and Woolworths will phase out all cage eggs by 2018.

“Aldi has remained silent on this important issue, ” the RSPCA says, but that with the public’s help, laying hens’ “life of confinement” can be brought to an end.

2,500 emails in six hours

To help the public put pressure on Aldi, the RSPCA has published on its website the company’s phone number, supplied a model letter for emailing, and provided links to the company’s various social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

According to MailOnline, said to be the most visited online newspaper in the world, under the headline of “Shoppers vent outrage over ‘cruel’ eggs.” Aldi’s Facebook page has been “flooded” with complaints, with some shoppers saying they would no longer shop at the chain. More than 2,500 people sent the model letter to Aldi within six hours of the RSPCA launching its campaign, it reports.

Looking at the page the day of the campaign launch, I couldn’t find much outrage. There were comments calling for better layer treatment, but equally there were comments saying that egg boxes were clearly labeled, allowing consumers to make a choice.

Sticking to policy

Aldi currently provides three types of eggs – cage, barn and free range, all of which meet or exceed industry standards, as well as meeting the requirements of Australia’s Model Code of Practice, the company says.

An Aldi spokesperson told me that, ultimately, customers make a choice regarding what category of eggs they buy.

“All eggs at Aldi Australia are transparently labeled, featuring and complying with descriptions and specifications listed on their packaging. These conditions include the living conditions of cage, barn or free-range eggs.

“We will continue to provide our customers with these three options. By offering a range of quality eggs, consumers make their purchasing decisions based on value and affordability.”

But these things tend to build, and it can be hard to maintain a position when the tide is turning. Will Aldi Australia sit tight or crack? It will be interesting to watch the company's sourcing policy over the coming months. 

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