How Woolworths Dumping Caged Eggs Will Affect What You Pay

As the controversy over just what constitutes free-range eggs continues, Woolworths has announced plans to eliminate all caged egg brands from its stores by 2018. How will that affect what you pay?

Woolworths announced the plans today, saying it would eliminate caged eggs both from its own house brands and from third-party suppliers. According to the company, 50 per cent of its current sales are of caged eggs, so that's going to represent a major change, even if it does take five years to implement.

While that move might represent an improvement in chicken welfare, the fact that there's no single national standard for free-range or barn laid eggs means that you'll still need to do your research carefully if you're trying to be an ethical shopper. Eggs sold as free-range can vary in chickens per hectare density from anywhere between 1500 and 20,000.

But what if you want to get the best value for money? Caged eggs are cheaper than free-range, but not by a massive amount. Below we've listed the full range of eggs which Woolworths sells in NSW stores, along with their prices. Its Home Brand caged eggs are the cheapest by some measure, coming in at 27 cents per egg. Other caged egg brands range in price from 30 to 50 cents each — which means some caged eggs actually cost more than the Woolworths Select Free Range egg, the cheapest free-range option at 37 cents.

We won't know for some time if the elimination of caged eggs will be accompanies by a price rise for the free range options. However, currently the pricing is quite varied — ranging from 37 to 76 cents an egg — and it seems likely that will continue.

The key lessons for egg shoppers right now:

  • Buy in bulk, but check. While it's always more expensive to buy eggs in a half-dozen than a dozen, Pace Farm's 15-pack actually costs more per unit than its 12-pack.
  • Typical available egg weights vary from 50 grams to 67 grams. That's not a massive difference, but keep it in mind when comparing different brands.
Brand Number Weight (g) Cost Per egg Egg weight (g)
Homebrand Caged 12 700 $3.21 $0.27 58.3
Select Free Range 12 700 $4.49 $0.37 58.3
Select Free Range 6 350 $2.99 $0.50 58.3
Select Barn Laid 12 700 $4.00 $0.33 58.3
Macro Organic 6 300 $4.57 $0.76 50
Pace Farm Free Range 6 330 $3.65 $0.61 55
Pace Farm Free Range 12 600 $5.99 $0.50 50
Pace Farm Free Range 12 700 $6.40 $0.53 58.3
Pace Farm Free Range 12 800 $6.80 $0.57 66.7
Pace Farm Free Range Omega 3 12 700 $6.40 $0.53 58.3
Free Range Free Range 12 800 $6.69 $0.56 66.7
Farm Pride Free Range 10 700 $6.44 $0.64 70
Veggs Free Range 12 700 $6.98 $0.58 58.3
Port Stephens Free Range 18 900 $7.50 $0.42 50
Family Value Free Range 15 900 $8.06 $0.54 60
Manning Valley Free Range 12 700 $5.99 $0.50 58.3
Manning Valley Free Range 6 330 $3.40 $0.57 55
Mcleans Run Free Range 12 660 $6.93 $0.58 55
Field Fresh Free Range 10 500 $4.39 $0.44 50
Eco Free Range 10 550 $6.59 $0.66 55
Pace Farm Caged 12 700 $3.99 $0.33 58.3
Pace Farm Caged 12 800 $4.99 $0.42 66.7
Pace Farm Caged 15 975 $6.40 $0.43 65
Pace Farm Caged 6 400 $2.99 $0.50 66.7
Sunny Queen Caged 18 600 $6.99 $0.39 33.3
Farm Pride Caged 18 1000 $5.36 $0.30 55.6
Wattle Ridge Environmental Caged 12 700 $5.36 $0.45 58.3
Simply Caged 12 700 $3.95 $0.33 58.3
Sunny Queen Barn Laid 12 700 $5.45 $0.45 58.3
Sunny Queen Barn Laid 12 600 $4.99 $0.42 50
Sunny Queen Organic 10 550 $7.65 $0.77 55
Pace Farm Liberty Barn Laid 6 330 $3.10 $0.52 55
Pace Farm Liberty Barn Laid 12 700 $4.99 $0.42 58.3

Comments

    So if Woolies dumps cages eggs... That means that by the laws of supply and demand, caged eggs will become way cheaper at Coles?

      Coles already dumped caged eggs.

      http://www.coles.com.au/helping-australia-grow/responsible-sourcing-and-sustainability/cage-free-eggs

      Last edited 04/10/13 12:30 pm

        On the other hand, Woolworths is going to take the next 5 years to make this change.
        Seriously?

          Because Woolworths are going to dump all brands of caged eggs and not stock them at all, as opposed to just not using them in their self branded products which is what Coles have done.

            Yep this. Coles still sell cage eggs, just not as the Coles brand. They still sell other brands. Woolies are going to drop ALL brands of cage eggs.

          I would hazard a guess that they have multi-year supplier contracts in place and don't want to take a huge financial hit in just outright stopping shipments as they'd be liable to pay out the balance of the contracts.

          Personally, I don't care about the welfare of chickens, so I'm just annoyed that I'll have to start paying double for "free range" eggs eventually.

    I really don't think it makes that much difference which type you buy at the moment. I've bought regular caged eggs and compared them with "supposed" free range and frankly the difference in taste and colour is negligible. Having also tried actual free range eggs from a mates farm, there is a major difference. The yokes are richer and better coloured, and the taste is fantastic. I'm all for free range, but I don't think what is classed as free range legally, is actual free range...!!

    Last edited 04/10/13 12:50 pm

      You will not notice much difference between eggs regardless of where they are sourced. All commercially produced eggs are from chickens who are fed a diet specifically prepared to include all of the nutrients, protein, vitamins and minerals required. I feed the exact same food to my free range chickens in my own back yard, supplemented by kitchen scraps.
      Any variation will more likely be a result of the bird's breed, age, and seasonal changes.

        That may be in general, but I've had 'true' free range eggs from a variety of sources over the years and find that they're a lot more flavoursome than shop bought. Your point about feed is no doubt very relevant, but I don't think my mate uses it, I think he feeds them from kitchen scraps and something that looks like some kind of seed meal. Prety much all the 'true' free range eggs I've tasted over the years had far more taste than anything I've bought in a shop.

        Last edited 04/10/13 2:20 pm

          Oh, I forgot to mention what is probably the biggest plus for home grown - freshness.

          I think you'll find the key thing here is what is being fed to the chickens. In reality, Free Range and Cage eggs are unlikely to taste any different as the hens are all fed the same commercial 'laying mash'. The reason your friends eggs may taste better is that he could be feeding them on a range of vegetable scraps and they are probably eating a fair amount of works/insect etc, even meat (although feeding lef-over chicken to chickens is a bit gross). Bear in mind that unless your mate's 'farm' is actually a chicken farm, he probably only has a few chooks that get plenty of yummy kitchen/farm scraps. Also, there's a big difference between 'free range', 'free to roam' and 'have you seen the chooks since this morning? Nah, they'll be in the paddock somewhere and'll come home to roost at sunset"

      The point here isn't really the taste, it's how the animals are treated.

        Thank f..k someone else has picked up on this.

        I'll happily pay 5 times as much for my eggs if I can trust that the hens they come from are actually living happy little lives.
        I have ZERO sympathy for those whinging farmers who say it will ruin them.
        As I've always said, if your business depends on the misery of animals to operate, (I'm also looking at you, live animal exporters) then your business deserves to die the same miserable death that you inflict.

      That's exactly the problem - currently the only legal definition of "free range" is "not caged"
      There are no requirements (legally) for appropriate space, and even the minimum industry guidelines are barely enforced.

    A friend of a friend used to own a chicken farm and 'Free Range' meant he just had to have a small panel of the barn removed so they had the 'choice' to go outside.
    The chickens hated going outside as it was cold so they all hurdled together up the other end of the barn - away from the opening anyway.

      A friend of a friend of mine used to clone dinosaurs on a small island. Things were going well until a big tropical storm knocked out the electricity and fucked everything up.

      Now they don't clone dinosaurs anymore.

      The lesson being, living in a cage and being force fed crap food stuffed with hormones to fatten you up in half the time is kind of shitty, regardless of the animal.

      @jakeharry: I can second that. You also often find that when PETA take photos of overcrowded chooks, they stand 3/4ths of the way down the barn, and take a photo of the far 1/4 where all the chooks are huddling up to either keep warm, or keep close to the fans if it's a hot day. What they're not showing you is that there is hardly a chook in the remaining 3/4ths of the barn.

      There is very little difference between "Free Range" and "Farm Laid" eggs. However, there is a pretty big difference (in terms of chook welfare) between "caged/battery" hens, and "farm" hens (that can walk around a shed freely and go to nest-boxes to lay).

      I actually don't give a crap about chicken welfare - I'd prefer to save $2 at the checkout. However, given the price of real estate in country Australia, I don't think it's an unreasonable move to force people to buy 'farm laid' eggs. (Especially when we're willing to lecture the indonesians on the way they kill our cattle)

        " I actually don't give a crap about chicken welfare I'd prefer to save $2 at the checkout."
        You were doing ok until that bit.
        Now you're just another blight on humanity's humanity.

    This only makes sense right now, but when there is no cage eggs. the increased amount of free eggs needed to produce will become cheaper in the longer term as farms are bigger and more chickens come into play.

    So it MAY be more expensive now, but longer term the price will drop with increasing supply. But the industry has 5 years to increase/grow supply so it should not be an issue.

    Another point to consider is the density of what free range is as wanted by Coles and Woolworths is different what free range actually is.

    In other words, buy wisely I guess or grown your own

    I love the way people think caged eggs are evil and so-called free range eggs are fine.

    Sure, the chickens aren't caged individually. Mostly they are held in large barns with very little room to move.

    And if something spooks the chickens it ends up a disaster. For instance one such barn in NSW was next to a train line. The train driver let off his horn to try and move an animal off the train tracks... which in turn led to the chickens being spooked and running to the opposite side of the shed away from the noise.

    End result. Shitloads of chickens crushing and smothering each other.

    I can't see much of a difference really.

      Pretty much, considering it's 750 chickens (max) per hectare to be considered free range..

      Which is about 13 chickens per square metre. Not that much room for them to move around.

        10000/750 = 13m^2 per chicken

      Caged chicken farming is not for the civilized world. I think other supermarkets should follow and end this inhumanity. I think free range eggs are expensive because, they currently have to compete with caged eggs. Once everybody is forced to buy free range, there will be higher sales for free range farmers to break even on overhead costs. Also free range market will compete with each other and egg prices will eventually fall. Also, caged egg producers will need to convert their farms to free range when nobody is buying from them. I think Woolworth has made a good decision but the other supermarkets should follow to see real results. If the other supermarket don't take this opportunity, Woolworths maybe forced to re-introduce caged eggs because many consumers are drawn towards the cheaper alternative.

      If everyone is forced to buy free range, the prices should come down.

    Weird. I admit I haven't bought eggs from supermarkets for a while, but I could've sworn that not several weeks ago the 700g own-brand cage eggs were only $2.70 or thereabouts.

    Anyway, my wife's boss has been buying free range eggs in bulk from Flemington markets, and selling them to folks in their office for $2.20 a dozen.

      Haven't seen eggs that price in either coles or woolies for a long time :S

    Here's something I've always wondered about free range chicken meat -- before they got their heads lopped off, these were happy birds enjoying a carefree existence. Meanwhile, industrial farm chickens live in such crappy conditions that the executioner is kind of doing them a favour.

    ...So which meat purchase is more ethical?

      Depends how you define ethical really, Chris.

      Like the free range chicken could be ethical since it's living a more natural life and in theory is going to be more healthy. Where as your battery hens, don't get any natural light, are fed probably only pellet food, and get their doses of meds to keep them "healthy"

    Once Coles and Woolworths increased their cheapest eggs to around $3 per dozen, I changed to Aldi for my eggs. The 600gm eggs are $2.4j9 per dozen and the 700gm eggs are cheaper than $3 per dozen. I wonder what the changes at Woolworths and Coles will do to the smaller retailers. They may end up with much cheaper eggs catering to the market that doesn't object to caged eggs.

    Meanwhile i'll just continue buying 700g free range eggs from Aldi for $3.80 a dozen..

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