The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Experts of the food industry and animal welfare discussed the growing preference for free range (or grazing) chicken and eggs in Costa Rica and the world, during the workshop “Market Opportunities for Grazing Eggs in Costa Rica” from the Humane Society International.
Costa Rican consumers are increasingly interested in how animals are treated in the food production and are opting for products resulting from a higher level of well-being. In recent years, the office of HSI Latin America has witnessed the increase in the number of companies in the food industry in the region who have departed from conventional eggs produced in battery cages in their supply chains, and offering grazing eggs produced in a higher level of well-being.
The multinational company Unilever, which has pledged to use only globally grazing eggs by 2020 as part of its sustainability plan, including products marketed in Costa Rica, issued a statement during the workshop which partly says: “We take animal welfare seriously as a social and ethical concern ( …) if we reach our 2020 goal of sourcing 100% cage-free eggs as part of our Plan for Sustainable hens life, we need to expand the network producers who meet the highest standards. We are committed to adapting our product portfolio around the world, including Latin America, for which we need local production of eggs of cage-free hens (…) the possibility of having local suppliers adapted to international standards for egg production of released hens would become a benefit to buyers like us, and to the same suppliers that can offer a specialized and sustainable service for the businesses and consumers who are concerned about animal welfare.”
Cynthia Dent, director of HSI Latin America, said “We are pleased to reunite the food industry, poultry producers and the tourism industry to discuss the growing market opportunities for grazing eggs in Costa Rica. We work with food businesses in Costa Rica and Latin America to achieve the adoption of policies of cage-free shopping and more welfare. Many multinational food companies, including Burger King, Subway and Starbucks are already using grazing eggs in their restaurants in the USA or Europe. And more and more consumers are choosing Costa Rica products of greater welfare and contributing to the growth in demand for pasture eggs.”
Pablo S. Fernández, sustainability consultant and advisor of Adaptarse and APRONAD, sponsoring the workshop and organizing corporate social responsibility, said during his presentation: “The welfare of animals is a right that essentially involves us as people, and worrying about work in this regard is also social responsibility of entrepreneurs. For this reason the opportunities of the gastronomy industry to improve are limitless.”
The chamber of Costa Rican Restaurants also attended and made a presentation during the event. Alejandro Madrigal, executive chief, said: “We require to revitalize the culture of each region and generate gastronomic ventures that give employment options to families throughout the country with the attributes of sustainability and health. Production supply and demand for grazing eggs exemplifies targets of opportunity towards a Costa Rican gastronomy with identity.”
- In conventional egg production, hens are often confined in metal battery cages so small they can not even spread their wings. In battery cages, each bird has less space than a sheet of paper to spend its entire life.
- In the production of grazing eggs, animals have more space to walk, spread their wings and perform other important natural behaviors.
- The conventional battery cages were banned in the European Union in 2012.
- Three U.S. states, Michigan, California and Ohio, have passed laws restricting the confinement of hens in cages.
- Most states in India recently stated that the use of battery cages is a violation of the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in this country and is now a national ban debate.
- The Australian Capital Territory also recently banned the use of conventional battery cages.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose, Costa Rica