Giving in to the pressure of vigorous grassroots campaigns from animal welfare groups, Publix announced it will sell only cage-free eggs by 2026.
"We are committed to moving forward with this challenging and complex effort and will work toward being 100 percent cage free by 2026," the company's website was updated to say Friday.
Publix is the last of the major grocery companies in the country to pledge to sell only cage-free eggs joining other grocers including Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway, H-E-B, and SUPERVALU.
Their delay to make the move made them the target of recent efforts from animal welfare groups including The Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion in World Farming who campaigned hard with television commercials, YouTube videos, online petitions, and newspaper ads. Just last week, Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley made headlines when he wrote an open letter to Publix's CEO urging the grocer to go cage-free.
"Publix serves the Southeast region where I live when I’m filming The Vampire Diaries and I’d feel a lot better patronizing an establishment that values the humane treatment of animals. Please don’t be complicit in cruel farming practices," he wrote in part.
Upon hearing the news of Publix's pledge to go cage-free, Wesley tweeted his thanks and congratulated the Humane Society.
“We appreciate that Publix will stop selling eggs from caged chickens. The future is now more certain than ever that the egg industry’s cage confinement of chickens must come to an end,” said Josh Balk, senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States.
"Publix has taken a significant step forward in improving the lives of farmed animals. The company’s cage-free egg commitment will reduce the suffering of countless hens and inspire other grocers to implement similar meaningful animal welfare policies," Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy for Animals said in a statement. "[...] With Publix’s announcement, it’s never been clearer that the days are numbered for companies that sell eggs from hens packed into cages so small the birds can’t walk or even fully spread their wings. Any food company that has not yet adopted a cage-free egg policy is simply out of step with consumer expectations and business trends."
Lakeland-based Publix is the state's largest grocer both in terms of market share and number of stores with 768 locations in Florida.