Woolworths pairs with Jamie Oliver to promote animal welfare and healthy eating
Australian supermarket group Woolworths has paired with UK-based celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to phase out cage eggs and to focus on bringing “better, healthier, affordable fresh food to life for everyday Australians”.
Woolworths phasing out cage eggs, moving to RSPCA standards
As part of the partnership, Jamie Oliver has been working with Woolworths on a number of significant changes that are already underway, including phasing out all caged whole eggs sold in-store by 2018. This will include those used in Woolworths’ Own Brand products.
Woolworths said it will also move to RSPCA or equivalent approved standards for all fresh chicken sold in store by the end of 2014. Additionally, the chicken used in Woolworths Own Brand products will also be RSPCA or equivalent approved by the end of 2018.
Australian Food News reported earlier in October 2013 that the conditions under which eggs are produced had come into the spotlight again as consumer group CHOICE made a ‘super complaint’ to regulators in New South Wales about the label ‘free-range’.
Victorian Farmers Federation says caged egg phase out will hurt farmers
Victoria’s peak farmer lobby group, the Victorian Farmers’ Federation (VFF), has questioned Woolworths’ decision to phase out all caged eggs.
“This move by Woolworths is a massive loss for consumer choice,” said Brian Ahmed, VFF Eggs Group President. “This change will mean a significant rise in egg prices, with caged eggs being the clear cheaper option,” he said.
“What’s more concerning is that Woolworths did not consult with industry or producers,” Mr Ahmed said.
Mr Ahmed also questioned the timing of the decision, considering the Model Code of Practice for Poultry has just commenced its review process.
“In 2000, industry, government and retailers came to agreement to improve practices by 2008,” Mr Ahmed said. “The egg industry has already spent over $500 million to meet the new regulations. Now they want to change that? There has not been enough time given to ensure a return. It will cost the industry more than twice the initial investment,” he said.
VFF says farmers already working with Coles on animal welfare
According to VFF, farmers are already advocating animal welfare and working with Woolworths’ rival Coles.
“As farmers, animal welfare is consistently a top priority. We’ve been working collaboratively with Coles to establish the national Quality Assurance program HenCare,” Mr Ahmed said.
“The Hencare certification logo tells consumers they are buying eggs from producers who not only comply with current food safety legislation, but are committed to providing the best care for their hens and eggs,” Mr Ahmed said. “Woolworths should consider using quality assurance programs like HenCare to assure animal welfare,” he said.
HenCare, in partnership with Coles, was backed by the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industry, and was launched in June 2013.
Partnership will promote “healthier choices”
For 15 years, Jamie Oliver has been inspiring people globally to cook and eat healthier food. His books and television series are enjoyed by millions across the globe, and his charity, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, works to raise the profile of food education through its work in communities and schools in the UK, US and Australia.
“Woolworths customers have told us they want help to make healthier food choices,” said Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths Managing Director. “We’re really excited about working with Jamie to help Australia live and cook well by choosing fresh options while keeping the shopping budget under control,” he said.
“I’m incredibly proud and excited to be working with Woolies – Australia’s fresh food people,” said Jamie Oliver. “Together our aim is to inspire Aussies to cook more fresh food from scratch and to have fun with it, all safe in the knowledge that they’re feeding themselves and their families with quality, affordable and local ingredients they can trust,” he said.
“We’ve got loads of great stuff planned that’ll help all you lovely Aussies make some healthier choices and get excited about what you can achieve in your kitchen at home. I can’t wait to get started,” Mr Oliver said.