When buying eggs at Save-On-Foods, the age-old question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” comes to mind.
Below their cartons of eggs, signs describe the conditions the hens who made the eggs above are kept in. A green sign reads “Cage-free Organic: hens roam organic pasture, vegetarian feed.” Yellow shows “Cage-free free-range: hens roam indoors and outdoors,” while an orange label declares “Cage-free free-run: hens roam indoors only.” The red sign says “Cage eggs: hens in cages, behaviours restricted.”
The signs have been in place since 2011, when Save-On-Foods partnered with BC SPCA to bring awareness to animal treatment. After a two-year pilot project in several Vancouver stores, the project was expanded to the majority of Save-On-Foods stores in 2013.
“The thinking was could we test the notion that if we put signs in stores giving consumers better additional information on how it is their eggs came to be in this grocery store, would that change consumers’ decision making around what eggs they’re purchasing,” said Julie Dickson, Save-On-Foods’s director of public affairs.
BC SPCA had approached Save-On-Foods with the idea, and the company agreed because it would give their customers more information about what they are buying.
Since then, they’ve found that the signs do change human behaviour, but to what extent depends on store locations.
“There would be all kinds of reasons why, but in some cases, it seems to resonate better with customers and we have a higher percentage of purchase behaviours where they’re purchasing eggs that are cage-free,” Dickson said.
While she couldn’t say how the program affects purchasing across Save-On-Foods stores, in Victoria’s Blanshard location, the customers are purchasing “by percentage” more eggs labelled “cage-free”.