One of the serious fall-outs of the war on nature that crept into our society like a thief in the night – gradually and veiled as ‘progress’ – is the battery chicken industry. This is one of the first atrocities that I became aware of some 20 years ago, which made me realise that things had gone horribly wrong in our western model.
Compassion in World Farming, driven by the passion of Louise van der Merwe, has done courageous and consistent work in this regard. If you are still unaware of what happens at battery egg farms, it is time to find out. Read more about this at Compassion in World Farming and Animal Voice South Africa.
One much needed remedy arrived recently at the launch of the Woolworths Free-Range Liquid Egg Processing Factory outside Paarl. This is an important milestone in their Good Business Journey. As Woolworths is committed to animal welfare, they started selling free-range eggs in 2000.
Learning from customers
However, the eggs used in their bakeries, called liquid eggs, were still sourced from the battery industry. Customers complained and this is what I find so encouraging about this supermarket: They are happy to learn from their customers. This means that Woolworths is in fact run like a healthy marriage. People are open to learning from each other.
It also means that a customer that knows more about something can share her knowledge and will be taken seriously. This is mutual respect. Moving towards a sustainable society is all about learning from each other. That is why we share these stories with you. We need to grapple with solutions together so that the greater circle in which we live benefits from every bit of information or awareness.
At Woolworths the success of the store is shared by all involved. I value the humility, the honesty and the courage this takes. This is a conscious business model and a sign of the open-mindedness and commitment towards a healthier planet that just warms my heart.
One of its kind in SA
Responding to their own learning Woolworths put plans in place to offer baked goods made with free-range eggs. Over the past 2 years they looked around Europe and ordered the equipment for the new facility, which took 4 months to build. This is the first one in South Africa and demanded an investment of R22 million.
The factory relies on eggs from 120 000 free-range hens. One free-range egg produces 20 eggs per month. All of this at no extra cost to the consumer. This was a slow journey, based on intricate re-engineering to find the money to sustain this new initiative. By next year 50% of all the Woolworths baked goods will be made with free-range eggs. In time all their baked goods will be made this way.
How do we support this good work? Look out for the sticker on their baked goods, which is clearly indicated ‘made from free-range eggs.’ This is one way in which we can extend the goodwill of the festive season towards our feathered fellow-creatures too and make this a more compassionate Christmas.