Look into high prices, claims of 'free-range', 'cage-free' eggs

At our supermarkets, it is common to find various types of eggs that command different prices.

Recently, some caught my attention because of the huge difference in price.

For example, a carton of six cage-free eggs or organic eggs costs $3.20, while a carton of 10 regular eggs costs $2.65.

The unit price difference between the former and the latter is a whopping 100 per cent, or 0.533 cent each compared with 0.26 cent.

The Consumers Association of Singapore should investigate how the cage-free and organic suppliers justify charging such high prices.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) regulates poultry products, including eggs, due to diseases such as bird flu.

That means all eggs sold in Singapore must be from chickens raised in an enclosed and restricted environment and which are not allowed to roam freely.

With such restrictions in place, how do eggs labelled "cage-free" or "free-range" make it to our shelves?

As there is no way for consumers to verify the information and details on cage or barn space, consumers are at the mercy of these suppliers.

Another problem is that the feed for hens is not regulated by AVA, and any supplier can claim that its eggs are special without any obligation to prove such statements.

Selling quality eggs at a high price requires transparency from suppliers, and consumers have the right to know more about their eggs and poultry.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Look into high prices, claims of 'free-range', 'cage-free' eggs'. Subscribe