Two years of representations and hard lobbying by Humane Society International (HSI) on behalf of Humane Choice True Free Range producers has culminated in a damning report from the ACCC opposing the intensification of free range egg production.
The theme throughout the comprehensive ACCC report is that the Australian Egg Corporation’s proposal to increase stocking rates for layer hens to 20,000 birds per hectare will not meet consumer expectations for free range production.
“Although this has been obvious to the consumer for some time, industry has been relentless in their quest to highjack the term free range because big business had seen the potential to increase their profits substantially by labelling their eggs as free range” said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice. “This is a resounding victory for consumers, farmers and of course the chickens.”
Of 1,700 submissions received by the ACCC on the proposed Egg Corporation Standards, a staggering 1,693 were in opposition. There were only 7 submissions in Egg Corporations favour and they were probably by the producers most likely to benefit from the deception.
“The consumer has sent a very loud message to anyone labelling their eggs free range as well as to the supermarket chains that are promoting stocking rates up to 20,000 birds for their in-house branded free range eggs. Quite simply, label any egg produced in a system with stocking rates higher than 1500 birds per hectare and you are misleading your customers,” said McCosker.
The report from the ACCC is a welcome relief for true free range producers who were in danger of being put out of business. NSW, TAS, WA and South Australia all have Bills before parliament capping free range stocking rates at 1500 birds per hectare and the ACCC findings would hopefully push these Bills over the line.
We would like to thank the thousands of consumers who stood with us on this important issue to protect the integrity of free range farming into the future. “The people have spoken. It would be a huge mistake by government not to listen,” says McCosker.