Dansk Supermarked Group, which operates some 1,400 stores in five countries, said it will completely phase out the sale of cage eggs in popular supermarket chains Netto, Føtex and Bilka.
Cage eggs will be removed from Føtex shelves by September 1st, while the other two chains will follow suit no later than the end of 2017. The company will also phase out the use of cage eggs in all food products by 2019.
Company spokesman Jeppe Dahl Jeppesen said the time had come to make the move.
“Better animal welfare means a lot to us and as Denmark's largest retail company we are taking responsibility. We are ready and the customers are ready,” he said.
He said that sales of cage eggs have been halved over the past three years and currently account for just 25 percent of total egg sales.
Cage eggs (buræg) are laid by hens that live in wire mesh cages and never see the light of day. Rules allow for 13 hens to share just one square metre of space. Barn eggs (skrabeæg) are laid by hens that also have no outdoor access and live nine hens per square metre.
Animal welfare organization Dyrenes Beskyttelse said the move was “fantastic”.
“Around half of all eggs sold in Denmark are still cage eggs so this is still an important battle to fight. Dansk Supermarked's decision to phase out cage eggs will make a huge difference,” the organization's director, Britta Riis, said.
Riis added that the decision to phase out so-called “hidden cage eggs” from all products was “really impressive and extremely ambitious”.
Dansk Supermarked Group's largest competitor, Coop, announced in March that its 1,200 stores nationwide will stop selling eggs laid by cage chickens by 2020. Coop operates the supermarket chains Kvickly, Irma, SuperBrugsen, Fakta, Dagli'Brugsen and LokalBrugsen.