Pizza 4P’s is carrying out environmentally-conscious projects step by step in order to achieve the vision “Make the World Smile for Peace”. We started our original article series “Peace for Earth” focusing on such sustainable projects in our company.
The topic of this article will focus on cage-free eggs. Over the past decades, many food companies around the world have begun to rapidly shift to cage-free methods of raising chickens. This trend is not limited to companies alone, as there is also a growing movement at the national and state levels to ban conventional battery cage farming. In Vietnam, some farmers are gradually adopting cage-free methods, and Pizza 4P’s has decided to completely switch to cage-free eggs too. We will share the background of how we are engaging in sustainable actions in Vietnam.
What is cage-free?
Have you ever wondered how the eggs you pick up at the supermarket were raised? According to Humane Society International, an NGO that promotes animal welfare worldwide, about 90% of the world’s chickens are raised in cages.
Chickens raised in cages are unable to move properly, which is detrimental to their health. Their legs become weaker, they are more susceptible to disease, and their lifespan tends to be shorter.
Compared to conventional battery cage methods, cage-free gives greater priority to animal welfare. It means to provide an environment where the hens can live as naturally as possible. Specifically, this includes “Single barn floor” where the hens are raised on a flat surface with plenty of space, and “free-range” where they can run around freely outdoors.
The cage-free method also takes into account various other factors to help the hens live better, such as securing a space where they can lay eggs properly and safely, securing a place to play in the sand, and building a perch or playground.
Why are food and beverage companies around the world declaring a shift to cage-free?
Currently, many companies around the world are declaring their intention to switch to “cage-free eggs”. Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., has declared that all of their eggs will be cage-free by 2025. Restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Starbucks have also announced their commitment to the gradual transition to cage-free. In addition, hotels such as Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental, and Park Hyatt have also announced their commitment to go cage-free one after another.
Some countries, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Germany, have already banned conventional cage breeding methods by law at the national level. In the U.S., conventional methods are still the mainstream, but they have already been banned in states such as California and Michigan. Another example is New Zealand, which has declared that it will ban the practice in stages by 2022.
The reason behind the global pressure for cage-free eggs is that an increasing number of consumers believe that traditional battery cage farmings are against the concept of animal welfare. This growing global interest in animal welfare is driving countries and companies to make the shift to cage-free.
Pizza 4P’s also begins transitioning to cage-free
In Vietnam, on the other hand, the cage-free concept is not yet as widespread as it should be. While the terms “organic” and “pesticide-free” are widely used for fruits and vegetables, the understanding of eggs and meat is not as widespread as in the other countries.
Under such circumstances, some farms in Vietnam are gradually starting to raise chickens and sell eggs in cage-free methods. Taking this opportunity, Pizza 4P’s has decided to tie up with cage-free egg producers in Vietnam, who are still in the minority, and switch to cage-free eggs for use in all Pizza 4P’s restaurants. Pizza 4P’s stores in Ho Chi Minh City have already started using cage-free eggs, and other stores in other regions such as Hanoi and Da Nang will gradually switch to cage-free eggs.
Eggs are used in various menu items at Pizza 4P’s, such as carbonara pasta and homemade pudding. After using cage-free eggs for the first time, we realized that the taste of the yolk was much richer with the cage-free eggs than with the conventional eggs. It was so rich in flavor that we had to make minor adjustments to the recipes on each menu. We realized that the healthier the hens are raised, the better the quality of the eggs.
A farm that provides four square meters per hens
In September 2020, we visited the farm of Everyday Organic in Dak Lak, one of our partner farms of cage-free eggs, where they grow vegetables and fruits without pesticides and raise cage-free hens. The eggs are also certified organic by the EU Organic standard.
The farm feeds the chickens with the scraps of vegetables that are harvested when they are grown on the farm. The vegetables are pesticide-free, so they are healthy for the chickens, and they also help reduce the amount of food waste on the farm.
Inside the chicken coops, we were able to see the chickens moving around freely. Each coop has a door that allows free access to the outside. Although there was a fence, there was a huge space inside the fence where the chickens were free to roam around and peck at their food.
When we talked to the owner of the farm, he told us that they design their chicken coops and spaces based on the standard of giving 4 square meters of space to each hens. We could feel their strong will to spread animal welfare in Vietnam.
As a restaurant, how can we promote cage-free?
However, there are some challenges. According to the farm manager, the cost of cage-free eggs tends to increase because it is more time-consuming and labor-intensive compared to the normal battery cage method. We hope that by promoting cage-free eggs, we can increase the understanding of consumers in Vietnam and create a market where cage-free egg producers can continue their business. We feel that it is necessary to support the creation of a market that will allow cage-free egg producers to continue their business.
In terms of animal welfare as a whole, there are currently almost no farms in Vietnam other than egg farms. We really would like to use more meat or dairy ingredients which are produced with good animal welfare standards, however, this cannot be achieved without support from the consumer side and strong partnerships with producers in Vietnam.
On the other hand, if you go to rural areas in Vietnam, you can see dogs walking leisurely along country roads, cows walking proudly in the middle of the road, and chickens roaming around in the yard of houses, pecking at their food. Although there are still a few farms that practice cage-free farming as a business, in a sense, cage-free animals have become a normal part of people’s lives in Vietnam. In developing countries, where there is still a lot of land left, cage-free farming might spread rapidly in the future.
It is a fact that “cage-free eggs” are becoming more and more popular around the world as a more ethical choice. In order to create a future where more and more people can choose ethical and sustainable options, we would like to continue to ask ourselves, “What is truly good food?”, and take the initiative in leading the industry in this direction.