West Sacramento-based Raley’s says it will transition all private-label eggs to cage-free by July.
In addition, the company said it has set a goal of sourcing only cage-free eggs for all other brands by 2020, based on availability.
“We are proud to make this quick transition to cage-free eggs on our private-label offerings, where we have authority over the product and supply chain,” Chelsea Minor, Raley’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. “As we make this transition, we will continue to serve as a resource for our customers and their product selections.”
Raley’s joins a growing number of major grocers making adjustments to offer so-called cage-free eggs to customers.
On March 1, Boise-based Albertsons Cos. announced that it will work with its suppliers to source only cage-free eggs for its stores by 2025, a move that will affect hundreds of stores in the Sacramento region and throughout California.
The company’s 18 store brands include Safeway, a major presence in Sacramento. The grocer also has Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme and Tom Thumb. Albertsons, the nation’s second-largest supermarket chain behind Kroger Co., said it operates nearly 600 stores in California under the Albertsons, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions brands alone.
Albertson’s also stressed that implementing the program will be based on available supply.
Woodland-based Nugget Markets recently said it hopes to offer 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2017. Once again, that transition will be based on sufficient supplies.
Cage-free eggs and confinement of laying hens have been hot-button issues in California for years. In 2008, Golden State voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, which included language prohibiting farmers from putting laying hens in small cages.
However, debate on the issue continues, with animal welfare advocates saying farmers have sidestepped voter intent by investing in new cages or modifying old ones. Farmers counter that they have followed the language of Proposition 2, implementing changes at great expense to their operations.
Egg producers added that meeting Proposition 2 requirements in January last year resulted in a statewide reduction in the number of laying hens. They said that, along with drought, prompted a steep increase in egg prices in the spring of 2015.
Privately owned Raley’s operates 122 stores in Northern California and Nevada under four banners: Raley’s Supermarkets, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods and Food Source.