Cage-free hens do not necessarily have access to outside space, but they are able to walk and spread their wings, and systems are third-party certified to ensure that animals have access to perching and dust-bathing facilities. Snyder’s-Lance makes cookies and breakfast products that contain eggs, alongside its core salty snacks business.
"Snyder's-Lance is committed to doing our part in ensuring a more humane and sustainable world," said director of communications and community relations for Snyder's-Lance Sid Levy. "We are committed to using the highest-quality ingredients and keeping in touch with consumer concerns. While the vast majority of our snack products do not contain eggs, choosing cage-free eggs is the right thing for our company and our customers.”
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) welcomed the move. It came to an agreement with the United Egg Producers (UEP) last July to establish a voluntary nationwide standard for cage sizes and enriched housing for egg laying hens. The UEP says it represents egg farmers who own about 95% of egg laying hens in the United States.
"The Humane Society of the United States applauds the company for beginning to tackle this important issue," said Kristie Middleton, outreach director for the HSUS' farm animal protection division. "Americans are increasingly concerned about animal welfare, and Snyder's-Lance's switch to cage-free eggs is welcome news.”
Battery cages are still the most common form of egg production in the United States, where the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society have agreed to phase in a recommendation for cage size of 124-144 square inches. Currently, the UEP’s recommendation is 67 to 86 square inches per bird, and it says the majority receives 67 square inches – smaller than an A4 sheet of paper – although about 50m birds still have just 48 square inches.
Battery cages have come in for criticism from animal welfare groups, as hens are unable to spread their wings in such confined space.
Other major companies to announce the phasing out of eggs from battery cages include Barilla Pasta, Unilever and Sara Lee.