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Amid the stampede of grocery retailers declaring their commitment to cage-free eggs, Hy-Vee Inc. aims to make the move gradually to avoid disruption in the marketplace and to its supplier partners.
“We constantly have our finger on the pulse of the issues facing agriculture and consumers in this country. Many of our customers and neighbors are the same ones who carry out the monumental task of feeding the world,” the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocery chain said in a statement posted to its website today.
Hy-Vee took issue with organizations and activists that “have used mainstream media and social media to put pressure on many national and regional retailers to offer only cage-free eggs to their customers, therefore forcing the egg industry to change the way it does business.”
Reaffirming itself as “a company that has always put our customers’ best interests first,” Hy-Vee noted that its stores are located in states that are home to some of the largest egg producers in the United States. “Before we act, we always think through how our decisions will impact our customers,” the retailer said.
Hy-Vee stressed its commitment to customer choice as well as to animal welfare.
“We strive to offer a wide range of products that cater to our diverse customer base, which has varying dietary preferences and economic circumstances. Today, our egg product selection already includes cage-free eggs as well as other varieties and price ranges,” the retailer noted.
Additionally, Hy-Vee is committed to doing business only “with suppliers who adhere to U.S. regulations governing animals involved in food production. We take sustainability, animal rights and the environment seriously, which is why Greenpeace has recognized our efforts and ranked us one of the top three retailers in the country when it comes to implementing sustainable seafood efforts.”
By the same token, Hy-Vee “will not make irrational decisions,” the grocer asserted. “While we’ve already had plans to implement only cage-free eggs in our menu offerings at our Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants by August 2016, we will not be pressured to remove all egg options from our stores, because of the adverse impact it would currently have on our customers. We need time to evaluate how moving to 100 percent cage-free eggs will financially impact our customers, especially those who rely on the value eggs bring to a tight budget.”
Hy-Vee pledged to “continue to work with our valued suppliers to develop a sustainable and affordable cage-free egg supply. We are committed to having a solution in place by the end of 2022. In the meantime, we’ll continue to stand firm in our principles and values — the same ones that have been supported by our customers for the past 85 years.”
Hy-Vee operates 240 supermarkets in eight Midwestern states.