A new research study by non-governmental organization Lever 槓桿finds that demand for cage-free eggs in Hong Kong will increase by 70 million eggs annually by 2025 over current levels and increase by 140 million eggs annually by 2028, as a result of an increasing number of companies pledging to end the use of caged eggs. In September, Pizza Hut and KFC joined the growing trend, committing to use only cage-free eggs in Hong Kong and globally.
More than 60 major food and hospitality industry companies in Hong Kong have now pledged to shift to using or selling only cage-free eggs, including leading local and international brands such as CitySuper, Pret a Manger, Nestlé, InterContinental Hotels, Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Langham Hotels, Disneyland Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, Starbucks and Shake Shack.
“The cage-free eggs market in the region has witnessed substantial growth as the concern for animal welfare has increased significantly.” said Ms. Angela Wong, Program Manager of Lever 槓桿, “Growing consumer sensitivity and interest towards responsible sourcing and food safety will continue to increase the demand for cage-free eggs quickly. Hong Kong is following in the footsteps of egg markets such as Europe, North America, Australia, South Korea, and Brazil, which are rapidly phasing out the use of caged eggs in favor of cage-free eggs.”
By 2025, the demand for cage-free eggs by food retailers in Hong Kong will increase by 43 million eggs annually over current levels. Demand for cage-free eggs at hospitality chains will increase by 17 million eggs annually, restaurants and café chains by 5.5 million eggs annually, food service companies by 3.2 million eggs annually, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies by 1.5 million eggs annually. In mainland China, this demand for cage-free eggs will increase by 1.5 billion eggs annually by 2025, and Hong Kong is following closely behind in consumption patterns.
“I am impressed with the advocacy and awareness that is being driven in Hong Kong, resulting in a growing demand for cage-free eggs from the food and hospitality sectors. Alongside high-profile companies taking the lead and demonstrating their commitment to responsible sourcing, ReThink HK looks forward to further championing the shift to local sourcing as the supply of cage-free eggs from mainland China increases,” said Mr. Chris Brown, Founder & Director of ReThink HK, a well-attended conference and solutions expo dedicated for sustainable development in Hong Kong.
Animal welfare issues have been incorporated into the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting framework and have become increasingly surfaced as a material consideration for investors. HKEX has published a consultation paper that Hong Kong-listed companies will be regulated to comply with mandatory requirements to disclose further climate-change and social issues and other relevant ESG issues from 2020. Animal welfare issues directly impact public health and social risks and are becoming a critical investment assessment criterion.
In a survey conducted by Lever China with innovative food media agency Foodtalks (FTA), findings showed that over 75% of Chinese consumers report they would be more likely to patronize a food brand that had committed to using only cage-free eggs, with a significant amount of customers willing to do so even at an increased cost. These results signal an increase in consumer knowledge about the benefits of cage-free eggs and in consumer purchasing motivation to buy egg products that are higher in quality and more humane.
The Chairman of Hong Kong Imported Food & Beverage Association (IFBA), a not-for-profit association working for and representing the Hong Kong food and beverage importers community, indicated that “Cage-free eggs are a healthful addition to any diet due to the higher nutritional value of eggs produced by cage-free and free-range hens, as proven in numerous studies.”
Hong Kong is moving in the same direction as the global trend, with cage-free egg demands rising worldwide. In Europe, the proportion of eggs coming from cage-free sources increased from 10% to over 50% in the past 20 years, and in the United States, it rose from 4% to over 30% in the last ten years alone. More companies worldwide are realizing the positive impact of shifting to using only cage-free eggs, which have dramatically lower risks of salmonella contamination than caged eggs, higher food quality, and are more humane to animals. In caged egg farms, hens are kept in cages no larger than a sheet of A4 paper their whole lives, often crammed in with other hens under atrocious living conditions. Cage-free eggs are sourced from farms that allow hens to move around freely and engage in natural behaviors.
Lever槓桿 is an international animal protection NGO working with leading food companies in Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific region to help them upgrade their protein sourcing for a more humane, safe, and sustainable supply chain, with a particular focus on cage-free eggs and alternative protein.
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The report of Hong Kong Cage-Free Egg Market Forecasted Increase in Demand Based on Corporate Commitments: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12wVN5UKALUncEnPjignV6ZXHsCdcDtO5/view?usp=sharing