Colorado Egg Producers plan to keep up with consumer demand, as the cage-free egg movement continues to grow.
Walmart, the nation's largest grocery chain, has announced that it will sell only cage-free eggs by 2025. Its decision follows dozens of other retailers, restaurants and food manufacturers, that have decided to eventually go cage-free, including McDonald's, Kroger, Costco, and Trader Joe's.
"A lot of [this movement] seems to be spreading from animal activists groups that are asking for these retailers to make a pledge, so some of it is driven by animal advocacy groups," Jerry Wilkins, the president of the Colorado Egg Growers Association, said. "More and more consumers are being outspoken about how their food is produced, and there's more and more demand to know where their food comes from, so there seems to be a natural progression toward more cage-free eggs in the marketplace."
Two commercial farms in Colorado supply eggs for Walmart stores in the state.
"The good news is, we've kind of been ahead of the curve," Wilkins said. "We have six egg producers in the state. Of those, half of them already have some sort of cage-free production on-site."
The Colorado Egg Producers Association said it is preparing to be 100 percent compliant with consumer's demands as soon as possible.
"We are all about offering consumers a choice here in Colorado," Wilkins said. "So if the consumer is asking for cage-free, we will be glad to do it."
Currently, only an estimated 10 percent of Colorado's egg production is cage-free. And making the other 90 percent of egg production cage-free is a large process.
"This is a huge capital investment. That's why, in many ways, us farmers are happy to see that if we are going to move more toward a cage free demand from our customers, that they are giving us at least about ten years or a decade to get compliant, because it's so expensive," Wilkins said.
The Colorado Egg Producers Association has more than four million egg-laying hens that produce more than one billion eggs per year for Colorado.