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January 13, 2011

Unilever Receives Humane Society of the United States Corporate Progress Award for Hellmann’s Cage-Free Conversion

In recognition of its work to improve the lives of farm animals, food manufacturing giant Unilever is among the 2010 recipients of The Humane Society of the United States’ Corporate Progress Award.  

The award recognizes companies that have made demonstrable progress in reducing animal suffering and advancing animal welfare in 2010.

“Unilever acutely understands that consumers care about cruelty to animals and don’t want hens confined in tiny cages,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “We applaud the company’s efforts to reduce animal suffering and hope that more food manufacturers will follow its lead by switching to cage-free eggs.”

In 2010, Unilever announced the company was switching all 350 million eggs it uses for Hellmann’s mayonnaise to cage-free. The company started by switching all the eggs in Hellmann’s Light to cage-free with the commitment to move all the eggs it uses to those that don’t come from hens confined in tiny cages. Hellmann’s touted its switch to cage-free eggs with print and television ads.

In announcing its decision to switch to cage-free eggs, Jamey Fish, Hellmann’s senior brand manager stated, “Hellmann's® understands that people are increasingly attuned to what's in their food and where it comes from and that's why Hellmann's® Light is now moving to 100 percent cage-free eggs….”

Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise is the first consumer product of its volume and stature in the packaged foods industry to use 100 percent cage-free eggs. In 2010, Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s also completed its conversion to 100 percent cage-free eggs. 

Following in Unilever’s footsteps, numerous other major food manufacturers, including Kraft, Sara Lee, and Otis Spunkmeyer have started using cage-free eggs. Major restaurant companies including Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Subway, Sonic, Quiznos, Red Robin, Hardee’s and Carl's Jr.—have started to use cage-free eggs. Hellmann’s mayonnaise announced that it will convert all 350 million eggs it uses each year to cage-free. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway have taken steps to increase their cage-free egg sales.

Facts

  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in cages so small each bird has about as much space as a sheet of paper. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering and threatens food safety.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and, like caged hens, may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into cages.
  • Factory farming is a major social issue: A study by food industry consultancy Technomic ranked animal welfare as the third most-important social issue to restaurant patrons; an American Farm Bureau-funded report found that 89 percent of Americans believe that food companies that require their suppliers to treat farm animals better are doing the right thing. 

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store. 

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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