PR Newswire

Lever Foundation Praises Costco for Landmark Commitment to Sell Only Cage-Free Eggs in Japan

International animal protection charity’s praise follows criticism of the company from Japanese celebrities in the US

TOKYO, Jan. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Costco Wholesale, the world’s second largest retailer, won praise today from international animal protection non-profit Lever Foundation for a new animal welfare policy that includes banning cages for animals in its global egg supply chain over time. The move covers all Costco Japan stores as well as the company’s stores in South Korea, Taiwan, and mainland China.

“Shifting to cage-free eggs is the right thing to do for customers and for animal welfare, and we encourage Costco Japan to act swiftly in implementing this cage-free commitment.” said Lily Tse, program manager at Lever Foundation, an animal protection non-profit that worked with Costco for the past two years on on expanding their animal welfare commitments internationally. “Over fifty of the world’s largest food companies have now committed to use only cage-free eggs globally, including Japan. Costco’s pledge to do the same will boost animal welfare and will benefit their Japanese customers.”

Costco’s commitment was shared with investors over email. “We are in the process of making that transition [to cage-free eggs],” noted Josh Dahmen, Financial Planning and Investor Relations Director for Costco in an email to investors. “We will continue to increase the percentage over time, with a goal of eventually getting to 100%, although this may take several years in some countries, due to issues with availability.”

Costco is the second retailer to commit to selling only cage-free eggs in Japan, after METRO. The  decision comes in the wake of criticism from NGOs and  Japanese celebrities, including The Walking Dead star Eleanor Matsuura and Grammy-nominated musician Steve Aoki. “We are asking you to please set a reasonable time frame to end the sale of caged eggs in Asia, just as you have done everywhere else in the world.” said the celebrities in an open letter to the company.

Studies by the European Food Safety Authority and others found caged egg farms have higher rates of contamination from key salmonella strains compared to cage-free farms. Among the 12 regions where Costco operates worldwide, Japan ranks low in terms of the percentage of cage-free eggs it sells, amounting to less than 1% in fiscal year 2020.

CONTACT

Lily Tse, lilytse@lever.hk, +852 5612 3303

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