Dedicated Aldi shoppers are threatening to boycott the supermarket for continuing to sell caged eggs.
Since Friday, hundreds have swamped the Aldi Facebook page, vowing to stop shopping at Aldi until the supermarket cleans up its act.
The threats follow a campaign launched last week by consumer watchdog CHOICE, which called on consumers to boycott 19 free-range egg brands with stocking densities of less than 10,000 hens per hectare, at several supermarkets including Aldi.
The watchdog said even these so-called ‘free-range’ products were unlikely to meet consumers’ expectations.
User Poetry Share wrote on Tuesday: “I will never buy Aldi eggs again.”
Lynda Garside said she liked Aldi products but refused to purchase caged eggs because it was “such a cruel practice”.
“Other large prominent stores are already making headway in this change and it is unfortunate that Aldi is being left behind. Stop supporting the caged egg industry,” Ms Gardside wrote.
Click the owl for a list of Australian retailers and fast food chains that have committed to phasing out cage eggs (or have already stopped using them)
A self-described “long-term supporter”, Eddy Cravagna, pointed out that in Europe the supermarket had committed to moving away from caged battery chickens.
“Don’t chicken out, Australia … it’s a blight on your image,” he wrote.
Kristy Schneider was a little harsher in her Facebook message, promising to tell her all friends to “boycott” the chain “until you lift your game and stop supporting animal cruelty”.
“It’s bad for business and bad for hens. Simple, really,” she wrote.
Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White told The New Daily the days when “ethically justifying condemning animals to a lifetime of suffering just to produce a cheap product” were long gone.
“Aldi has announced phase outs of cage egg sales in Europe and the US so why is Aldi Australia still throwing their financial support behind this archaic practice? There are no excuses, no shades of grey in this issue – you either support the cruelty of the battery cage or you do not,” she said.
Ms White challenged Aldi executives to take their children into a battery cage facility and “proudly tell them that it is a system Aldi supports”.
“If they can’t do so – then they should end their financial support of the cage egg industry,” she said.
Animals Australia Communications director Lisa Chalk said that consumers have a lot of power, and have already persuaded some supermarkets to tackle the issue.
“The best hope hens have is caring consumers demanding change and ethical companies listening to their customers. And fortunately, retailers are increasingly using their purchasing power to create needed change for animals by raising standards in their supply chains.”
Ms Chalk said consumers, once educated about the “high price” paid by caged hens, would be willing to accept more expensive, free range eggs.
RSPCA Australia, which launched a campaign against Aldi late last year, urged the store to join other supermarkets and “get cracking on hen welfare”. Its CEO Heather Neil said free range hens should be stocked at a maximum rate of 1500 hens per hectare, or up to 2500 if a regular rotation system is in place.
The New Daily has contacted Aldi Australia for comment.