Cage-free eggs and sustainable dairy

Eggs and dairy are vital ingredients of many of our products. We believe in high standards of animal welfare practices in sourcing these ingredients.

Sourcing our eggs responsibly

Eggs are a vital ingredient in dozens of our best-known food products, ranging from mayonnaises to mustards, dressings, sauces and ice cream.

However, the conditions in which eggs are produced vary widely. We take animal welfare seriously as a social and ethical concern. See Farm animal welfare for more information.

Animal welfare practices should address issues such as housing, hygiene, feeding and feed, health management and the management of antibiotics, water supply, mutilations, transport, slaughtering practices and traceability.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has used only free range eggs in Europe since 2004. In 2008 our Hellmann's, Amora and Calvé brands announced their commitment to source only cage-free eggs for products sold in Western Europe by the end of 2012.

USLP logoOur targets

In November 2010, as part of our Sustainable Living Plan, we extended our commitments:

  • To move to 100% cage-free eggs for all our products, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé mayonnaises* 

  • To source all dairy raw materials sustainably by 2020.

*Where allowed by local legislation

Meeting our commitments

Our four-year transition to 100% cage-free eggs for Ben & Jerry’s in the US was all but achieved by the end of 2010 when 98% of our products had made the conversion, with the exception being our novelty bars. This means that globally 98% of all eggs used in Ben & Jerry’s products are now cage-free or free range.

All our Hellmann’s mayonnaise on sale in the UK and Ireland has been produced with cage-free eggs (free range or barn) since 2008. During 2009, Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé brands in Western Europe met their commitment to source 100% cage-free eggs (free range or barn) by the end of 2009, well ahead of their 2012 target.

In N. America our Hellmann’s brand is also changing its recipes. In 2010 Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise was launched using cage-free eggs in the US and free-run eggs in Canada.

Stakeholder view:

“Unilever’s move to cage-free eggs in all sauces and dressings in Western Europe is fantastic. It shows real leadership and commitment to high standards and ethical sourcing. Acting on egg ingredients is especially important as consumers often forget to look for cage-free egg in the products they buy.”

Philip Lymbery

Chief Executive

Compassion in World Farming

Caring Dairy: our approach to sustainable dairy sourcing

Ben and Jerry's tubBen & Jerry’s promotes sustainable practices in dairy farming through its Caring Dairy programme in Europe and the Dairy Stewardship Alliance in Vermont, US. The Caring Dairy programme, which began in 2003, expanded rapidly in 2008 through a partnership with CONO Cheesemakers, growing from 11 to around 500 farmers. 

In 2009, over 160 workshops were organised in the Netherlands in which farmers were able to benchmark their performance on different sustainability issues such as energy use, nutrient use, greenhouse gas emissions, using fewer pesticides, maintaining high standards of animal welfare, biodiversity, labour and farm economics. Caring Dairy has helped farmers cut greenhouse gas emissions from milk production by over 10%.

To make this programme visible to consumers, the Caring Dairy label appears on all Ben & Jerry’s European ice cream packaging and is supported by a website which enables farmers to tell their story.