DENVER (KDVR) — Changes are coming to a grocery store near you. The kinds of eggs available will gradually become different in Colorado, thanks to a law signed by the governor more than two years ago.
Back in 2020, lawmakers put a plan in place that they say will improve the quality of eggs and the lives of hens.
Colorado cage-free egg rules begin in January
Starting next month, caged hens in the state will need to be held in enclosures that give them one square foot of floor space. The requirement is part of the state’s phased-in efforts to go cage-free by 2025.
“By the end of January, consumers will start seeing more of the changes in the grocery stores. And they will see those changes on the side of their egg cartons,” said Mark Gallegos, with the Division of Inspection and Consumer Services within the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “They’ll notice on the side of the egg carton letters with COO-COM. That is going to indicate Colorado compliance with the 144-square-inch requirements.”
Gallegos said “probably 100 percent” of the required farms are already in compliance.
“And that’s the key point I want to kind of point out: Any producer that has less than 3,000 egg-laying hens do not need to comply with this particular regulation,” Gallegos said. “It’s our bigger egg producers that have more than 3,000 egg-laying hens, so that part of the industry is working towards compliance nationwide that is bringing cage-free eggs into Colorado.”
Cage-free eggs fetch higher prices: USDA
While those who have been preparing for the implementation of this for the past two years may be ready for the change, your wallet may not be. Prepare for just a little more sticker shock as cage-free eggs are currently estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be an average of 73 cents more per dozen than conventional eggs.
“We don’t track the price of eggs because that’s an industry-driven amount, but I would venture to guess consumers, depending upon the different market drivers, could see an increase in price,” Gallegos said.
While this change is coming amid an avian flu outbreak, Gallego’s said Colorado’s egg supply chain should be OK now at this stage of the outbreak compared to its onset earlier this year.