For us folk who genuinely care about our world and ALL it’s inhabitants the future can sometimes appear bleak when we ponder whether the actions we take as individuals, such as buying free range eggs and meat, reducing waste etc. are actually making a difference. So, as we come to the end of another year, we thought it was a good time to take stock of what we as caring, conscious consumers who vote with our wallets for healthier, earth-friendly, animal-friendly choices have achieved. As we hope you’ll agree, we think we’re doing pretty well.
Strong Growth in the Organic Industry
The organic food industry, where crops are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals and animals are raised with access to the outdoors and the ability to exhibit their natural behaviours, is continuing to go from strength to strength. The Australian Organic Market Report, commissioned by organic certifier Australian Organic, found that the certified organic market is now worth $1.72 billion, which is a 15.4 percent compound annual growth rate since 2009.1 The reports authors state that organics are being purchased by a wider cross section of people than in the past and not just the group of consumers who have traditionally purchased them. This is demonstrated by the fact that almost 70% of shoppers surveyed had purchased at least one certified organic product within the last 12 months. Another report conducted this year by IBISWorld found that the organic industry is one of the Australian economy’s best performers.2 With the continued growth of the organic industry we will see more growers and manufacturers producing food and other consumables that are not only healthier for us but also better for the environment and for animals.
The Big Guys are Listening
In 2014 Australia’s 2 largest supermarket chains have made landmark decisions in response to consumer demand for higher animal welfare food products.
Woolworths announced it will phase out all caged eggs from sale and the use of caged eggs in the ingredients of their own brand products by December 2018. They will only source pork from farms that only use stalls for less than 10% of the sows’ gestation period and will move to RSPCA (or equivalent) standard for all fresh chicken meat sold in their stores by December 2014. Woolworths own-brand products in-store where chicken is a defined visible ingredient (i.e. chicken pieces) will also use RSPCA (or equivalent) standard by December 2018.
Their major competitor Coles is also making changes. All Coles brand eggs are now cage free, all Coles brand fresh pork is sow stall free and all Coles brand fresh chicken is RSPCA approved. Several IGA supermarkets have also pledged to no longer sell cage eggs.
The fast food industry is also getting on board. McDonald’s has vowed to phase out the use of cage eggs by 2017 and Subway has said it will switch to non-cage eggs within the next 12-18 months. When you think about the sheer volume of sales of these supermarket and fast food giants, these changes mean big improvements to the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals.
Cruelty Free Beauty
The European Union has banned the testing of cosmetics and ingredients on animals and other countries, such as Israel, Norway and India have followed suit. Many other countries, such as the United States, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Canada are considering a similar ban and such a ban here in Australia is looking promising.
The Senate has recently passed a motion in support of ending animal testing for cosmetics following the introduction of the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill by Green Party Senator Lee Rhiannon in March. Senator Rhiannon stated: “This is a small positive step forward to eliminate animal cruelty, and it is excellent to have in principal commitment from Labor, the Liberals and the Nationals. The next step would be to pass legislation to ban all animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients.”
Last year, the Labour Party conducted a national consultation on the phasing out the importation, manufacture, sale and advertising of cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients tested on animals, which attracted over 13,000 submissions. It found that 92% of respondents supported a complete ban.3
Finally, another fantastic development has been the banning of sow stalls and gestation crates, battery cages and the debeaking of hens by the ACT government. Let’s hope the other States eventually do the same.
So, as you can see from the above, a lot has been achieved by caring, conscious consumers over the last few years and things are definitely changing for the better. Sure progress is slow at times and there is loads more work to be done, but we are definitely getting somewhere. Every little bit counts and every time you purchase free range eggs or cruelty free cosmetics you are casting your vote for a better world for us, the environment and for animals. Let’s keep up the pressure and as always, please remember to consume with care!
- Organic Farming Market Research Report | ANZSIC X0013 | Jun 2014 http://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry/default.aspx?indid=1912