The Baking Industry Just Took a Big Step Toward Banning Cages for Hens

After dialogue with Mercy For Animals, Associated British Foods—a major multinational food company operating in 52 countries—has committed to going completely cage-free! This is a huge step in the right direction and will help alleviate suffering for countless birds worldwide. 

While Associated British Foods already had a cage-free commitment in some countries, the announcement means that its cage-free policy will be expanded to include all its businesses globally.

Why Cage-Free Policies Matter

Chickens are incredible animals with unique personalities and complex relationships. They can empathize with peers in danger and use their experiences to inform decision-making. These birds are also very intelligent and able to understand that recently hidden objects still exist—this is beyond the capability of a two-year-old child! They can recognize dozens of individuals, not only other chickens but also people.

Sadly, the egg industry treats these animals as egg-producing machines instead of living, feeling beings. Most laying hens worldwide are confined to tiny, crowded “battery cages” without room to even spread their wings. Each hen suffers, on average, an estimated 11,207 hours of pain in her shortened life, from bone injuries and other ailments to not having access to a nest. 

What We’re Doing About It

The global cage-free movement is growing every day with a very clear objective: to reduce the suffering hens endure because of extreme confinement in cages. As a global issue, companies have the responsibility of banning the cruel confinement of hens from their supply chains. But when cage-free egg commitments don’t span the globe, the egg industry displaces animal cruelty by exporting cages from the Global North to the Global South. This is unacceptable.

In 2022, the Mercy For Animals-led International Cage-Free Equity Index shed light on how some companies have double standards for animal welfare policies in different parts of the world. After appearing on our list of companies silent on cage-free standards in certain countries, Associated British Foods announced a truly global cage-free egg commitment. We appreciate the company’s move to ban cages for all laying hens in its operations worldwide.

While this is a huge step in the right direction, there is more work to be done. At least 14 other food companies listed in our International Cage-Free Equity Index, including Mars, Chili’s (Brinker), Walmart, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven, have remained silent on the cage issue in certain countries. As a compassionate consumer, you can help thousands of hens around the world. Please sign the petition and spread the word at!