At the beginning of 2021, the leading egg producer in the Baltics, Balticovo, announced its transition to cage-free egg production while already taking the first steps towards raising the welfare of laying hens. With more markets and retailers across the world intending to phase out cage eggs in the following years, this Latvian company is the first in the Baltic countries to publicly commit to the initiative and start the transition, thus pioneering a new heading for the whole region and contributing to raising common standards in EU egg production.
The leading producer of eggs and egg products in the Baltics, Balticovo, currently owns the largest flock in the region with 3.3 million laying hens and pullets and is already in the process of leading the way towards local poultry industry development and cage-free egg production – both barn-kept and free-range. It is a strategical decision based on the company's long-term development strategy, which follows global trends and aims to accelerate the local egg industry’s move away from cage systems.
In order to implement the new approach, Balticovo plans to invest over 30 million euros in egg production process development, and the reconstruction of existing and erection of new barns by the year 2026. In addition, Balticovo is taking several other conscious steps towards its long-term sustainability action plan by focusing on the circular economy concept and embedding it firmly within the company’s processes. That includes the use of sustainably produced packaging, maximum usage of all products, as well as producing biogas from poultry manure as a main source of energy.
Currently, four types of eggs marked with codes from 0 to 3 are available for consumers, denoting four methods of poultry farming: 0 being organic egg production, 1 – free-range eggs, 2 – barn-kept and 3 – enriched cage farming. Given that cage farming products are the most affordable option, most consumers in the Baltics tend to make their decision based on the price point of eggs. 80% of purchases in Latvia are still cage farming products. However, as Vladimir Mkhitaryan, Chairman of the executive board of Balticovo, points out, the demand for cage-free eggs is growing each year.
With its current action plan, Balticovo aims to boost growing demand even more in upcoming years, and both retailers and consumers in the neighbouring countries of Estonia and Lithuania have also shown increased interest in cage-free egg production. “The common goal and commitment to end the production of cage eggs across the Baltics is further proof that our future is cage-free,” Vladimir Mkhitaryan adds.
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