New Research: Consumers Confused by Egg Carton Labels

AUSTIN, Texas, July 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly two-thirds of Americans routinely spend more to buy specialty eggs, but a new nationwide poll reveals they don’t always get what they think they’re paying for.
How well do you know your egg labels? This infographic paints a clear picture of the differences among pasture-raised, free-range, and cage-free eggs.
When shopping for eggs, 50 percent of respondents said they look for the free-range label. Cage-free (48 percent) and organic (47 percent) were the second and third most popular labels. Fewer than 1 in 4 (24 percent) sought out a pasture-raised label. However, when asked to describe the terms “free-range” and “cage-free,” most respondents said they imagined hens roaming and feeding on open pastures. In reality, they were describing pasture-raised eggs.

The poll was conducted on in May 2014 using an online sample of nearly 670 Americans, ages 21-54. Austin-based Vital Farms, which commissioned the poll, works with 52 family-owned farms across the United States and distributes pasture-raised eggs to grocery stores nationwide.

Pasture-Raised vs. Free-Range and Cage-Free

Pasture-Raised Hens (as defined by the Certified Humane® program)
Genuine pasture-raised hens have unlimited daytime access to a minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space each. They are exposed to sunlight and fresh air, and can forage for any foods that are naturally available on their pastures. Additionally, they are rotated to new pastures every few days so their vegetation is always fresh. The hens are brought inside at night for safety.

Free-Range and Cage-Free Hens
According to industry standards, free-range hens have limited outdoor access. This outdoor space is typically compacted dirt, and access is restricted through a small opening. While cage-free hens are not in cages, they can be packed in a barn with no access to the outdoors.

Government Standards for Egg Labels
Currently, there are no government standards for egg labels, and the term “organic” is the only label regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


“This is a taste issue, a nutrition issue, and an animal welfare issue,” said Matt O’Hayer, Vital Farms co-founder and CEO. “Multiple studies show that the outdoor lifestyle of pasture-raised hens results in eggs that are richer and tastier, and have added nutritional benefits.”

“The only way consumers can be confident they are getting genuine pasture-raised eggs is to look for the Certified Humane® label,” said Adele Douglass, executive director of Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC). “Vital Farms is the only national brand of pasture-raised eggs that qualifies as Certified Humane®.” The Certified Humane® label certifies humane treatment of farm animals and is nationally recognized as the Gold Standard for certifying animal welfare.

About Vital Farms
Vital Farms offers Certified Humane® pasture-raised eggs that set the standard for taste and nutrition while also promoting the welfare of happy, healthy hens. Started in Austin, Texas, in 2007 with 50 hens, Vital Farms now partners with 52 independent, family-owned farms in six states across the United States. It is the only national supplier of pasture-raised eggs in the country. Vital Farms eggs are sold in grocery stores nationwide under the brand names Vital Farms, Pasture Verde, Backyard Eggs, Alfresco Eggs, and Texas Chicken Ranch. In 2012, Vital Farms was listed by Inc. magazine as the country’s fastest growing food company.

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