Knowing Your Labels: The Value of Cage-Free

Eggs serve as fundamental building blocks on restaurant menus. From conventional to cage-free, eggs are produced with different methods that have varying qualifications for the treatment of hens. As the truths behind egg production practices surface and an increasing number of consumers crave transparency, it’s more important than ever to understand what the buzzwords on egg packaging labels mean, convey the information to customers, and serve ingredients with integrity.

Menuing cage-free eggs meets the demand for many top concerns in the industry – it gives egg items a wholesome perception and cultivates customer loyalty through transparency. Ensuring your operation is well-versed in the meaning of cage-free positions your brand as a compassionate company that consumers want to invest in.

Cracking the Code on Egg Labels

Caged Eggs: Eggs laid by hens in cages with access to feed and water. Multiple hens are confined to one cage with no room to spread wings. Hens in cages endure high levels of stress and frustration and are denied natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing – essential factors for hen welfare.

Cage-Free Eggs: Eggs laid by hens that are not confined to cages. Hens have access to fresh food and water and can roam in indoor houses. Cage-free systems vary from farm to farm, but they allow hens to exhibit natural behaviors and include enrichments such as scratch areas, perches, and nests.

Transitioning to Transparency

The rising concern for food transparency and humane practices is driving the food industry to take a closer look at the standards and stories behind the eggs they’re serving. According to Datassential, 58% of operators plan to or are actively seeking products that are humanely raised. Nestlé, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Denny’s, and Starbucks are just a few operations among many more that have made commitments promising to only use cage-free eggs. If you want to join these operations in the shift to serving cage-free eggs, Maines offers Esbenshade Farms Cage-Free Brown Eggs (#045986) that are harvested in an American Humane Certified farm, meet USDA guidelines, and exceed customer expectations. View the point of sales sheet or contact your Maines Territory Manager to learn more.

The Benefit of Cage-Free Eggs

The value of better treatment for hens comes with a price. Purchasing cage-free eggs may be slightly more expensive than conventional caged eggs; however, it will allow you to charge more for a premium product. According to the ASPCA, 67% of consumers would purchase products with verifiable welfare standards from a restaurant, even if it meant a price increase. Produced with humane methods, cage-free eggs are profitable as customers are willing to pay for their value.

Consumers base their meal decisions on many factors, and foods they can feel good about eating are a top priority. When you detail the efforts you’ve made to source humanely raised eggs, customers will feel like they’re making a difference by investing in your restaurant and supporting humane practices. However, customers can only feel good about eating your humanely raised ingredients if they’re informed. Educate customers about the meaning of cage-free eggs and the reasons behind why you source them. Create signage that states your restaurant’s commitment to cage-free eggs and post it somewhere in-store that’s memorable and where all customers will take notice. Another strategy is to include details of your efforts on your website or social media platforms. If you can, include a link to your egg purveyor so customers can get more information about their specific sourcing practices.

Humanely Raised, Humanely Served

Dive deeper into labels across your menu to impact brand perception and help guide consumers’ food choices. Chicken is another menu staple in which consumers are looking for transparency. Diners want information about the farm their chicken came from, what it was fed, and even the environmental conditions from which it came. They’re also looking for chicken with clean ingredients, or those that contain no artificial additives or preservatives. Deliver on these growing consumer needs by serving Indian Ridge FreeBird Chicken that’s natural, organic, and antibiotic-free. Free to roam in barns that are 33% more spacious than those used by traditional poultry growers, FreeBird Chickens are free to eat and drink on their schedules. They’re also fed an entirely vegetarian diet that’s free of animal byproducts and extenders, resulting in healthier, better tasting chicken that appeals to consumers looking for a more humane and sustainable product. See our point of sales for more information on Indian Ridge Freebird Chicken.

Menuing Cage-Free

Eggs have the unique ability to infuse comfort into plates across categories and are being embraced as a platform for creativity and menu differentiation that can translate to profit. Responsibly sourced, cage-free eggs can help position items with eggs as better-for-you and higher quality. Showcase them in a globally inspired Japanese-style pancake breakfast. Or, make a bold statement by highlighting cage-free eggs along with more responsibly sourced dairy items in an egg-based ricotta pot de crème dessert topped with seasonal ingredients like caramelized rhubarb jam.

Consider featuring cage-free eggs in trendy dishes such as khachapuri, the internationally inspired dish of the year, according to Restaurant Consultant Andrew Freeman & Co. Khachapuri is a trendy Georgian (the country, not the state) cheese-filled bread boat with a runny egg that’s mixed tableside. This worldly dish incorporates eggs as a dip element, offering customers a new, intriguing way to interact with this beloved menu staple. Craft a signature version or try serving our khachapuri recipe.

The humane treatment of animals is a pressing concern and a quality that customers are making a top-priority for the brands they support. Serving trend-forward egg items and labeling them as “cage-free” can have a far-reaching impact on your menu. Disclosing egg production practices to customers and providing them with genuine information positions your restaurant as an operation with a progressive stance on animal welfare and places a humanely raised halo on items that consumers can identify with and are willing to pay the price for.