Stores moving to cage-free eggs, but are they really worth it?

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As Stores Move to Cage-Free Eggs, Some Experts Say 'No Real Benefit'

(WPMT) -- The parent company of Giant Food Stores is the most recent chain to announce a switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs for its private label.

But a poultry educator said there's no real benefit to switching over - to producers or consumers.

Dr. Gregory Martin, a poultry educator at Penn State Extension, said, "We're going to have to find more land for the buildings to house the same number of chickens. So we're going to have fewer chickens covering a larger area."

Martin said most of the newer chicken houses coming to Central Pennsylvania are cage-free, but not many producers are converting to cage-free housing. He said switching will also affect consumers - the biggest change being in price.

"I probably won't buy them if they're overpriced," said a shopper at Giant.

But some shoppers don't mind paying more for cage-free eggs.

Marilyn Walker, a shopper at Giant, said, "I think it's great. It's not about the eggs it's about the chickens. So I was very excited to read about it."

In Ahold USA's announcement, they said the reason they're switching over is mainly for the chicken's welfare. But Martin said science doesn't support that decision.

Martin said, "Both systems allow the hens the opportunity to thrive. Simply because they're protected from the elements and they're able to eat a nutritious food."

He said the consumer won't notice a difference between conventional and cage-free eggs.

"Whether you buy enriched eggs or just conventional eggs. You're still going to get a good meal and a fairly good nutritional bang for your buck," Martin said.

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