Canadians Support An End to Cage Confinement

for Egg-Laying Hens

Findings from a recent survey of 1,005 Canadian residents conducted by Bryant Research.

June 2023

Canadians overwhelmingly want egg-laying hens to be housed outside of cages. That is the finding of a recent survey of 1,005 residents of Canada conducted by Bryant Research.

Respondents, who were recruited to be representative of Canada in terms of age, gender, and region, were shown photographs of various laying hen conditions, and asked for their opinions about the obligations of food companies. 

The vast majority of survey respondents indicated that they buy eggs – 97%. A similarly high percentage also eat eggs when dining out – 91%. But how much do Canadian consumers know about how eggs are produced?


Knowledge about layer hen conditions

  • Survey respondents were asked what proportion of egg-laying hens are housed in cages in Canada :

    • The highest proportion (43%) of participants estimated 50%-75% of all egg-laying hens in Canada are caged
    • Another 33% of participants estimate that 25%-50% of all hens are caged. Fewer believed that less than 25% are caged (13% of participants) and less estimated than more than 75% of hens are caged (12% of participants).
    • Estimates of the true portion of egg-laying hens in cages include range from 71% to 90%, with the most recent estimate at estimating 83%.
  • This implies that the majority of respondents underestimated the extent of caged egg production in Canada.

Acceptability of caging layer hens

  • Respondents were asked whether they think it is acceptable to confine egg-laying hens in battery cages, or in enriched cages:

    • As shown, 80% found battery cages unacceptable, while 75% found enriched cages unacceptable – just 7% and 12% found these systems acceptable respectively.
    • A vast majority (80%) were disappointed to learn that Canadians confine a higher number of hens in cages than the US, and 72% supported a ban on caged confinement.
    • Moreover, 68% of respondents said that the conditions in the pictures of layer hen cages were worse than they expected, with just 3% saying they were better than they expected.

Food outlets’ obligations

  • In general, most survey respondents agreed that food outlets have an obligation to improve the presence of cage-free eggs in restaurants and grocery stores on a variety of specific measures.

    • Transparency is a key priority for people: 87% agree that stores and restaurants should be transparent about the types of eggs they use in their supply chains.
    • Among other suggested measures, 79% say that grocery stores and restaurants should commit to banning cage sourced eggs altogether; and
    • 82% say that these outlets should provide regular progress reports on meeting their cage-free commitments.

    On the basis that retailers and restaurants are committed to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs and willing to provide full transparency about their progress, a vast majority of respondents – 81% say they would be more likely to purchase from these outlets. 

  • Consumer expectations for food outlets to provide products adhering to higher animal welfare standards revealed

    • Only 8% of respondents were aware of whether or not their favourite shops have commitments to banning cage sourced eggs.
    • A larger proportion of respondents also indicated that they would want these food outlets to publicly commit to a ban on cage confinement (69%).
    • An even greater proportion believe that grocery stores and restaurants should adopt animal welfare standards that would improve life for chickens in meat supply chains (80%). 
  • Respondents say the most popular suggested method to hear about animal welfare standards is in-store signage (78%). Other slightly less popular methods to hear about company animal welfare standards include the company website (45%), print flyers (34%), the company’s online ordering web-page (31%) and digital flyers (31%). 

  • Respondents were also asked about the stores that they shop at. The most commonly frequented grocery stores were Walmart (87% of respondents said they shop there at least occasionally), Costco (69%), Loblaws (58%), Sobeys (55%), Metro (49%), and Save-On-Foods (31%). 

Willingness to buy cage-free eggs

    • The majority of respondents – 83%, say they are more likely to purchase cage-free eggs following exposure to images and information that explain the conditions of conventional confinement methods.
    • 63%, say they are willing to pay more for cage-free eggs, with just 11% ruling this out.

Impact & Recommendations: Canadians want better laying hen welfare

  • This survey found that Canadians overwhelmingly support better welfare for egg-laying hens, and they expect food outlets to make – and keep – commitments to phasing out eggs from caged hens.

    An overwhelming majority of Canadians find caged hen systems to be unacceptable, and most say they are willing to pay more for cage-free eggs.