Krónan supermarket recently stopped selling eggs from caged hens, according to RÚV . Krónan is the first supermarket chain in Iceland to take this step, although some smaller stores have been exclusively selling cage-free eggs for a while now. The move was prompted by greater concerns on the part of consumers about animal welfare, according to Sigurður Gunnar Markússon, managing director of Krónan’s purchasing department.
"With this, we want to take steps toward animal welfare and demonstrate social responsibility. By 2023, it will be forbidden to use traditional cages for egg production in Iceland, but we find that an unnecessarily late deadline," stated Sigurður.
Krónan made the decision to stop selling eggs from caged hens a year ago. "We started discussing this with egg producers last year and prepared them for the change so that they had time to adjust their production," explained Sigurður.
Given the long preparation period, Sigurður does not expect any shortage of eggs from cage-free hens.
Guðný Nielsen, board member of Velbú, an organization that fights for better welfare for livestock, welcomed the policy change at Krónan. Guðný stated that traditional ‘battery’ cages [called so because of the way they are arranged in rows and columns like batteries], which are permitted in Iceland, are shared by four hens that each have floor space equivalent to an A4 sheet of paper. There is, therefore, a big difference between conditions for caged and cage-free hens, if the rules are followed, she added.
"We have been encouraging stores to stop selling eggs from caged hens since 2010, but the response was poor at first." Guðný pointed out that the Sainsbury's supermarket chain in the UK stopped selling eggs from caged hens in 2009—the first there to do so.
"We were always of the opinion that if it was possible there, it was possible here in Iceland too," stated Guðný.
The use of traditional cages in the production of eggs was banned in EU member states in 2012.