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Latin America Poultry at a Glance

A blog providing analysis of the poultry and feed industries in Latin America.
Broilers & Layers / Cage-Free Laying Systems / Egg Production / Latin America / Business & Markets

All or nothing in the conversion to cage-free

It’s necessary to educate the consumer and that the industry acts quickly to understand the changes that must be made for the production of cage-free eggs.

It’s necessary to educate the consumer and that the industry acts quickly to understand the changes that must be made for the production of cage-free eggs

August 18, 2016

Just a few days ago Toks, the well-known Mexican restaurant company, announced that by 2022 – that is, within six years – will exclusively supply their 226 restaurants across the country with cage-free eggs. It is almost certain that Alsea Group – considered the fifth largest restaurant operator in the world – will soon do the same. With more than 3,000 restaurants in Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil and operating brands such as Vips, Burger King, Starbucks, Domino's, Archie's, Cañas y Tapas and Foster's Hollywood, it is clear that the media impact can be very strong.

All this is snowballing in Latin America. With 154 million laying hens in Mexico, 91.2 million in Brazil, 42.5 million in Argentina and 37 million in Colombia, to mention the biggest, what plans do the producers have? I hear silence out there.

Consumer confusion

Is there confusion in the market between producers and consumers? I think so. First, at least in Mexico, there is no legislation on the matter.

As for the average consumer, who does not know the difference between a broiler and a layer, or that a white egg is the same as a brown egg, the confusion is worse. How will the consumer know what a “free hen” or a “cage-free hen” is? There is an urgent need to educate the public about it. Already other organizations are taking advantage of this.

Chad Gregory, president and CEO of United Egg Producers in the U.S. has just stated that so many cage-free purchase pledges all taking place in 2025 could lead to chaos in egg markets for egg purchasers and consumers.

In this regard, we must decide what it will be done in Mexico and throughout Latin America: Enriched cages or free-range birds? If conversion is going to take place, maybe it should be a radical move, so as not having to invest twice in a short period, as seems to be happening to the producers in the U.K., and perhaps to all European producers as well. We must act now! What do you think?