Mar 30, 2023
Michigan Scolds Kroger Over Shopper Confusion on Cage-Free Eggs
(Bloomberg) -- The Michigan attorney general’s office is telling Kroger Co. to be more direct with its shoppers about which of its eggs are cage-free.
“On behalf of Michigan consumers, I urge you to add clear signage to your stores to help consumers understand which eggs, exactly, came from caged chickens and which did not,” Jason Evans, chief of the law-enforcement agency’s corporate oversight division, said in a March 23 letter to Kroger Chief Executive Officer Rodney McMullen.
The letter cited a February report by Data for Progress, a think tank and polling firm that found that “Kroger consumers seem confused and often misled by the marketing of eggs.” In the firm’s survey of 646 Kroger customers, 53% said they would like to see signs differentiating between eggs from caged and cage-free hens.
Kroger didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“If Kroger customers are buying eggs from animals locked in cages thinking they’re buying cage-free eggs, the company should take immediate steps to rectify that,” said Josh Balk, CEO of the Accountability Board, a nonprofit that seeks to hold companies to their environmental, social and governance commitments, and a Kroger shareholder. “The least any company can do for their customers is provide the transparency needed to help them make informed decisions.”
In 2016, Kroger set a goal of selling only cage-free eggs by 2025, and reiterated the commitment for years. Last year, however, the Cincinnati-based grocer said it didn’t expect to meet the target, citing consumer demand for low prices and slow progress from egg suppliers. Instead, Kroger said it would transition about 70% of eggs sold to “cage-free or higher welfare standards by 2030.”
Walmart Inc. also said last year that it was unlikely to meet its goal of transitioning to only cage-free eggs by 2025. Walmart cited “slower progress than we had hoped.”
Consumers are frequently confused by egg labels, according to the Data for Progress report. For example, the report found that 41% of Kroger customers surveyed thought that “Farm Fresh” meant the eggs were not from chickens housed in cages — an erroneous assumption.
Over the last decade, farmers have increased their cage-free egg production. About 36% of US eggs are currently from chickens raised in cage-free systems compared with 5% in 2012, according to Data for Progress.
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