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October 23, 2017

Cheap eggs are ruining the cage-free movement

The great American egg glut keeps claiming victims, among them millions of hens that won’t be moving anytime soon into lodgings spacious enough for what they lay to be called “cage free.” This was supposed to be a golden-goose designation, after the likes of McDonald’s Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pledged to switch to eggs from birds able to actually spread their wings. Farmers stepped up to provide cage-free products, but buyers haven’t materialized in the anticipated droves, or anything close. “It’s been bad,” said Marcus Rust, chief executive officer of Seymour, Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms Inc., the second-largest U.S. egg producer. It spent $250 million over four years to upgrade conditions; today about 20 percent of its hens are cage free. And now, Rust said, “we are shutting our construction program down.”

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