U.S. Egg Business
Our commitment to animal welfare associated with our egg supply includes:
- Providing our customers with high-quality options including cage-free eggs and eggs produced in housing systems that provide healthy and humane conditions for laying hens.
- Working with the world’s leading animal welfare experts and our egg suppliers to research the most innovative housing systems and standards to ensure that our eggs are produced in a humane and respectful way.
- Focusing on humane handling, care and proper nutrition and minimizing distress for all the animals under our suppliers’ care.
- Ensuring our suppliers are held to our high standards by conducting independent audits of supplier farms to measure and verify performance.
Humane handling on the farm
Although our U.S. egg processing business does not own egg-laying hens, our focus is on humane handling and care, proper nutrition and minimizing distress for all the animals under our suppliers’ care.
Environmental enrichments are crucial to cage-free systems. We require all our cage-free eggs to originate from systems that provide nest boxes, perches, forage and dustbathing areas, and scratch pads. These must comply with the requirements set forth by American Humane Association (American Humane certified), Humane Farm Animal Care (Certified Humane) or United Egg Producers (UEP), and their provision is independently validated through the respective annual animal welfare audit. Additionally, our producers are continually evaluating further enrichments including alfalfa bales, pecking stones, mineral blocks, paracord string and limestone baths. Our joint goal is continuous improvement.
- We have been a proactive partner in helping interested customers make the transition to cage-free eggs by working with our suppliers, academics and other subject matter experts to ensure those transitions are implemented effectively.
- Cargill is a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, and the Coalition’s commercial-scale, scientific research is fundamental in helping us understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of various housing types. We are using the insights from this research to actively address some of the potential challenges associated with cage-free egg production that the research has identified, while maintaining the benefits of this type of housing.
- With a clear understanding of long-term cage-free trends, Cargill has been working closely with its egg suppliers to pioneer efforts that will enable us to meet the future needs of our customers and help them grow their business. While we do not own egg laying hens, we anticipate future egg supply arrangements involving new construction and remodeling of layer housing will reflect only cage-free configurations.
- We have entered into multiple long-term agreements to meet cage-free requirements by customers, including construction of new housing and remodeling of existing housing.
Antibiotics are not used for growth promotion, prophylactic use or disease prevention in our U.S. egg supply chain. Because of the effectiveness of current methods of disease control on farms, only a small percentage of egg-laying flocks ever receive any antibiotics at all. If hens become ill and antibiotics are needed, they are used therapeutically under the supervision of a veterinarian and in line with U.S. FDA guidance.
Humane handling at processing
Our egg business processes liquid egg and is not involved with the processing of laying hens.
Our contracted egg supply follows the standards for catching, handling and transport of the respective certifying body.
Industry standards and guidelines
All our contracted, conventionally raised egg supply originates from farms that are UEP certified, and all the cage-free eggs we purchase are certified by either American Humane Association, Humane Farm Animal Care or United Egg Producers. This is confirmed by an annual, independent, third-party audit of the respective certifying body.
Our egg producers comply with the U.S. FDA’s Egg Safety Rule, which includes requirements for pullets (young hens), biosecurity, pest control, cleaning and environmental sampling/testing.