One of the most common requests we get from companies seeking to buy cage-free eggs is for a supplier list. There are a few such lists that have been developed in Asia. While lists may seem like an easy way to source cage-free eggs, in reality they often only add to frustrations of procurement managers.
Clients often come to us discouraged after attempting to find suppliers through lists, and not getting results.
GFP did an audit of lists to understand the frustrations and found these issues, which were also shared by clients:
- Small volumes: Suppliers included in lists are often smaller in scale. While they may produce volumes to supply operations such as an individual restaurant, they don’t have volumes required by larger scale food and hospitality businesses. In fact, when we audited one list in Asia, we found that most suppliers produced between 50 to 500 eggs per day.
- Out of date: Lists are not often updated regularly, making them inaccurate and out-of-date. New cage-free producers regularly enter the market, and existing cage producers launch new cage-free projects. When we’ve contacted producers on lists, we’ve found that some had gone out of business. Newer producers in our networks also weren’t included in the lists.
- Cost: By contacting a producer through a list, companies often miss out on cost savings. In rare cases where a company is able to find cage-free eggs using a list, they are often at current market prices, which can be 200 to 300% higher than conventional egg prices. Costs can be lowered, but doing so requires active engagement with producers. For example, new cage-free producers or those currently in transition to cage-free, are still learning how to manage the new system. This learning curve usually translates into higher initial prices. We’ve been able to lower production costs and help suppliers optimise their production through technical training in cage-free management.
- Time consuming: When it comes down to it, the feedback we’ve gotten is that deciphering and weeding through lists is time consuming and frustrating, and often does not lead to viable cage-free suppliers.
- Certification/traceability: Clients often want certified cage-free eggs, but the majority of producers on lists are not certified to good animal welfare standards.
While cage-free lists may not always help you find viable suppliers, there are many effective strategies to implement cage-free sourcing.
We take on a more proactive and relationship-focused approach when working with clients to develop their cage-free supply chain. This may include:
- Working with existing cage suppliers: While they may not be on the list, some cage suppliers are interested and willing to start cage-free production, even if it’s a pilot project to start. When working with our clients, a first step is an open conversation with current suppliers to assess their interest in cage-free, and what they need to make it happen. Do they need training? Financial support? Long-term purchasing order?
- Upskilling cage-free producers: Producers across Asia have expressed a need for technical training in cage-free production. When we’ve provided this training to egg suppliers, they’ve been able to optimise production, bringing down the cost of eggs for buyers.
- Participating in programs such as Impact Incentives & Partnerships: Our Impact Incentives and Partnership Program allow food businesses to make progress on their cage-free policies, by incentivising producers to invest in best practice cage-free production. We have farmers on board from across the region, including Japan, Malasia, and Thailand. These programs are ideal for businesses looking to source cage-free eggs in more challenging locations and markets.
Implementing your cage-free policy should be rewarding and impactful, and not cause unnecessary stress and frustration.
If you’ve faced similar challenges finding suppliers through lists, we’d be happy to help! contact us for a free consultation.