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2nd China Cagefree Summit: a focus on quality, health and welfare

By Øistein Thorsen, CEO of FAI Farms

On October 15th FAI Farms and IQC are proud to welcome participants in Shanghai and on Zoom to the 2nd China Cagefree Egg Summit – focused on quality, health and welfare. We are bringing together a broad group of experts representing the egg sector, government, brands and NGOs because we believe exchange of knowledge and collaboration is critical to drive the kind of mindset and practice changes we need to create a more resilient food chain.

Over the last 10 years, public awareness and concern about the problems associated with laying hens kept in cages have increased. These are systems of production that keep millions of birds in extreme confinement, unable to express their most basic natural behaviors. Chinese citizens already know that there is a connection between animal health and welfare and food safety. Outbreaks of zoonotic diseases and incidences of food poisoning have heightened the general public and central government’s attention to animal health and welfare.

2019 Cage Free Egg China Summit
2019 Cage Free Egg China Summit

As a result, there has been a significant global shift toward cage-free egg production; many food retailers and global food businesses have announced they will phase out caged eggs from their supply chains by 2025 (if not sooner). In China, where global brands have made such pledges the current percentage of cage-free production is low. To meet the growing demand China will have to implement a significant transition in its egg production systems. This will have considerable impacts on the supply chain – for the people and animals directly involved, as well as food businesses, their infrastructure and their operations.

A key goal of this year’s conference is to make the case for cage-free egg production as the vehicle for implementing better animal health, better quality, and higher food safety in the Chinese egg sector. At the moment there is a wide variation in levels of food safety, husbandry, management and veterinary knowledge in the sector. In addition to the need for a clearly defined national cage free standard, we know that a significant programme of improvements, technical guidance, training and support will be needed over several years.

Ensuring that Chinese citizens connect quality, safe food with the higher welfare standards and practices of cagefree eggs, is key to ensuring that the shift to cagefree production truly benefits producers, consumers and the birds.

Øistein Thorsen Opening Remarks