Calls for Countdown to go cage free

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Animal rights organisation Safe is calling on Countdown to ban all caged eggs from its supermarkets.

The group has teamed up with actress Aidee Walker, who was on Outrageous Fortune, among other programmes, in its latest television advert.

Safe said Australian corporation Woolworths Group was operating double standards by refusing to phase out all cage eggs at their New Zealand Countdown stores, whilst already having committed to phasing out cage eggs in their Australian supermarkets.

"We say that if Countdown were to listen to its customers, follow what overseas supermarkets have done and implement a phase-out of all cage eggs, then the ad destined for TV in early April, would not have to air," the organisation said.

The commercial follows news last week that the Serious Fraud Office was investigating potentially millions of caged eggs being sold as free range to consumers.

Countdown spokesman James Walker said the supermarket had committed to go cage free in its own brands by 2022, which he said was an ambitious target, adding that consumers had the choice.

"We haven't seen the advertisement by Safe and Aidee Walker, but we wonder why the ad is focused on Countdown," Walker said.

"All national supermarket chains, and other grocers, sell a range of free-range, barn and caged eggs, and give customers the choice."

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Mandy Carter, head of campaigns at Safe, said change was inevitable but Countdown was taking too long.

"Woolworths have listened to their Aussie customers by committing to going cage-free, but they are turning a deaf ear to caring Kiwis wanting to end hen cruelty," Carter said.

"Ultimately this continued stance is going to damage their brand.

"Thousands of messages have been received by Countdown over the past few months asking them to go cage free, and New Zealanders are tired of being ignored."

Carter said Kiwi customers were being treated as "second-rate" by the supermarket chain.

A number of New Zealand retailers had already committed to going cage-free, including McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King.

Safe said it was asking Countdown to commit to a future phase-out date for caged eggs, rather than an immediate end to them.

Globally there has been movement away from cage-eggs, including in Europe which has an equivalent stocking density for free-range hens, as in New Zealand.

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