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Unilever pledges solution to killing of male chicks

News Section Icon Published 9/2/2014

I am so pleased to share with you groundbreaking news that the major food manufacturing company, Unilever has committed to searching for humane alternatives to the industry-wide practice of killing male chicks in the egg industry. 

Since most commercial egg production uses specialist breeds deemed useless for meat and as the males who won’t lay eggs, they are dispatched shortly after hatching, leading to the annual destruction of many millions of chicks every year.

In a statement released today, Unilever has pledged funding support for technologies that would “eliminate the culling of male chicks in the industry” through being able to determine the sex of chicks before they hatch. It has also looking at ways to replace eggs altogether as an ingredient in some of its products. Unilever’s decision could save over a million male chicks every year rough handling and from what is often an inhumane death.

This commitment by Unilever could have a profound influence on a serious animal welfare problem in the egg industry that has long been hidden from view. It is a hugely welcome development and has the potential to change the egg industry globally for the better. I am proud that Compassion in World Farming, along with colleagues at Farm Forward, The Humane League, and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has been able to work with Unilever on developing this new commitment. We look forward to lending our full support to bringing it fruition.

Unilever’s track record of animal-friendly policies is growing: It has committed to going cage-free on all eggs used in North America and is already more than half way there. Unilever’s leading brands, Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé, make up the largest dressings business in the world, and Hellmann’s is the world’s number one mayonnaise brand. In 2008, the company received a Good Egg Award from us at Compassion for committing to source only cage-free eggs for its dressings in Western Europe.

It made a further commitment to move to 100% cage-free eggs on all of its products, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé mayonnaises globally by 2020, a commitment already taking shape. Unilever won an additional Good Egg Award in 2012 for extending its cage-free commitment to its Hellmann’s brand in the US.

I am truly excited by this new pledge by Unilever which I hope will lead to an end to the killing of male chicks, a seemingly intractable problem until now.

Philip Lymbery
CEO, Compassion in World Farming