The case of the eggs  “free-range/ cage-free” produced it seems to be a clear example of divergence between the Quality and the Marketing. 

What is this ? The legal requirement of “free-range” can be different or even non-existent depending on the country. In Italy this kind of eggs production is called “Allevamento a terra”, in Spain “Camperos”. Various watchdog organizations, governmental agencies and industry groups adhere to differing criteria of what constitutes “free-range” and “cage-free” status.

In the EU, cage-free egg production includes barns, free-range, organic (in the UK, systems must be free-range if they are to be labelled as organic) and aviary systems. Non-cage systems may be single or multi-tier (up to four levels), with or without outdoor access. In the UK, free-range systems are the most popular of the non-cage alternatives, accounting for around 44% of all eggs in 2013, whereas barns and organic eggs together accounted for 5% (*)

Cage-free egg  production is regulated by the European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC stipulates that from 1 January 2007 (1 January 2012 for newly built or rebuilt systems).

“Free-range” evokes a positive image of chickens and turkeys living outdoors with plenty of fresh air, sunshine and open space to roam in.

“Cage-free” conveys a similar impression of hens living “free” as nature intended. What are the realities behind “free-range” and “cage-free” labels?

Cage-free” hens are typically confined in dark, crowded buildings filled with toxic gases and disease microbes the same as their battery-caged sisters. And like their battery-caged sisters, they are painfully debeaked at the hatchery.

United Poultry Concerns

United Poultry Concerns (UPC) promote a respectful treatment of domestic fowl

The website “United Poultry Concerns”, that promote compassionate and  respectful treatment of Domestic Fowl, said:

Cage-free means that, while the hens are not squeezed into small wire cages, they never go outside. “Cage-free” hens are typically confined in dark, crowded buildings filled with toxic gases and disease microbes the same as their battery-caged sisters. And like their battery-caged sisters, they are painfully debeaked at the hatchery. While chickens are designed to dig in the ground for food with their beaks and claws, when deprived of outlets suited to their energies and interests, they can be driven to peck at each other, having nothing to do with their time once they’ve laid their egg for the day in a barren building. Chickens love sunlight – they sunbathe daily outdoors – but “cage-free” hens are denied even this simple pleasure.”

The Quality is not just a label. This means that the first problem is the marketing position of this kind of production. Marketing and Quality are not so different.  Slowly the consumer notices it in every field of the food production.

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