Twin Cities-based Michael Foods is the latest to join the shift toward cage-free eggs.
The company is among the biggest in the country's biggest egg producers and president and CEO Jim Dwyer says in a statement “cage-free is emerging as the likely future of the egg industry.”
Michael Foods is a subsidiary of Post Holdings with headquarters in Minnetonka. Its brands include Crystal Farms, All Whites, and Simply Potatoes. The company reports net sales of more than $1.5 billion per year and it's the sixth largest egg producer in the U.S., according to Meat & Poultry.
Dwyer says “Our customers are increasingly requesting cage-free eggs and products made from cage-free eggs. We are actively working with our customers and suppliers to transition to cage-free housing to anticipate demand.”
While General Mills said last week it hopes to finish its transition to all cage-free eggs in ten years, Michael Foods set no timeframe for the change.
As Food Business News notes, other companies that have recently announced they're going cage-free include McDonald's, Taco Bell, Panera Bread, and Kellogg Co.
In 2009, the Humane Society of the U.S. highlighted an animal rights group's undercover investigation at a Michael Foods egg plant in Nebraska. It alleged instances of cruelty and neglect, including hens in cages with other birds that were dead, sick, or injured.
On Wednesday the Humane Society cheered Michael Foods' plans to go cage-free. The Society's president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle, wrote in a blog entry: "We’re clearly on the path toward a more humane food supply and a more humane society. The end of the cage confinement era is coming into sharper focus with each passing week."