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April 27, 2023
Sponsored by Happy Egg
Strolling through a modern supermarket, it’s easy to feel inundated by the number of labels—some more straightforward than others. Simply choosing a carton of eggs to purchase, for instance, can be a daunting task trying to decipher what each logo means: cage-free, free range, pasture-raised, organic, humane and vegetarian fed, to name just a few. It shouldn’t take a PhD to decode the differences. What choice is best for you, the hens and the environment? Happy Egg hopes to make it an easy choice.
With headquarters in Rogers, Arkansas, Happy Egg’s happy hens are found on more than 100 family farms nestled primarily in the rolling hills of Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana, where a new standard of care is emerging: Happy Egg Free Range. While traditionally hens are confined indoors to cages no bigger than a piece of printer paper, Happy Egg hens have a different reality. Happy Egg hens are free to roam, cluck and spread their wings as wide as their hearts desire on over eight acres of terrain, which includes plenty of shade trees and natural foliage. How does this difference in environment impact the quality of the egg? While you really have to see and taste the difference to understand, here are just a few reasons why happy hens make better eggs.
According to Nielsen data, caged eggs accounted for 65% of the eggs purchased in the USA in 2022, while cage-free eggs came in at 25%. This is down 8% and up 6%, respectively, from 2018. Caged eggs are produced from hens housed in cages inside large, climate-controlled sheds. Their standard of living is less than ideal and has become the target of criticism from animal welfare groups and legislators in recent years. In 2018, California voters passed Proposition 12, requiring all eggs sold in California to come from cage-free hens by January 1st, 2022. With 39 million residents, laws passed in California have national reach, so egg producers both inside and outside the state must comply to be able to sell their goods within California state lines. This legislation may have a role in the decline of caged egg sales; however, consumer awareness is also at play.
Many consumers now recognize that caged eggs should be avoided when possible. However, confusion around the different terms like cage-free, free range, pasture-raised and organic still exist. Cage-free eggs seem like the natural answer to those wanting to avoid caged eggs, however, the name isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The term cage-free simply signifies that the hens are not kept in small cages, but are still housed inside large, climate-controlled sheds. They are not in cages but remain inside. When consumers want to truly vote with their dollar, they should instead look for eggs with the American Humane Certified Free-Range certification, a third-party verified certification for animal welfare standards. Per Nielsen data, eggs with outdoor access, which includes free-range, pasture raised and USDA Certified Organic eggs, accounted for 12% of the market share in 2022. Luckily, Happy Egg products make it easy to support brands that are making positive changes in the industry by offering American Humane Certified, free range and organic eggs in sustainable packaging.
A typical playground for children has trees, plenty of grassy space to run around, play equipment and likely some snacks nearby. This is what a Happy Egg hen experiences every day! With 8-plus acres of room to roam, clean water, nutritious feed and play kits with a large barn for safe sleeping, these birds are living the dream. These accommodations mean that hens will experience the full extent of their natural behaviors, unlike traditionally raised and cage-free eggs.
All Happy Egg farms are required to have trees, which offer immense benefits to growing hens. Tree cover allows the flock to feel protected from sky-bound predators and even provides space for them to climb and explore. Similarly, play kits provide hens with enrichment, preventing them from developing negative health impacts or bad behaviors like feather pulling. If these accommodations sound too good to be true, they aren’t: all Happy Egg farms and eggs are third-party American Humane Certified. This ensures that the hens’ quality of life and farm environments are audited to ensure compliance, proving that the health and safety of its hens is a priority for Happy Egg in every aspect of its business.
With more than 100 family farms working together to create Happy Eggs, it’s clear that dedication and pride are necessary to uphold these high standards of care. Happy Egg forms close relationships with the small family farmers raising their hens to ensure that the hens lay the best-tasting and highest-quality eggs around. You simply can’t beat the rich, flavorful yolks that come from Happy Eggs or the standards of care in which these hens are raised. The next time you find yourself comparing eggs in the supermarket, you’ll feel equipped to decode the many labels and find that your egg carton of choice just got a whole lot simpler.
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