Cracking open The Happy Egg Co’s values

January 31, 2018

Company values should be the building blocks on which an organisation is structured, guiding every decision and action. They should serve to inform both employees and customers about that company's ethics and approach to doing business. For some companies though, the values they tout are little more than hot air.

Strong values that are properly implemented become all the more important when the business is responsible for the welfare of living, feeling beings —such as Noble Foods, which is the largest producer of eggs in the UK. The company owns brands including The Happy Egg Co, Big & Fresh, and Gü Puds, and is responsible for some 11 million hens.

So what values does Noble Foods claim to live by, and and is it really living up to them? Let's take a look.

Being better

"Because being better is better for all," its website states. "When we go the extra mile it feels great." Given that Noble Foods keeps millions of sentient beings in small cages, these lines probably need an asterisk next to them with the following qualifier: "*Except for the caged hens from whom we make a large slice of our profits—we don't need to be better or go the extra mile for them."

Being courageous

Courageous means daring to do things which may seem difficult or carry risk. Noble Foods claims that as a company, it is "courageous enough to stand up for what we believe in" and 'trusted to do the right thing." Making a commitment to completely eradicate cages would prove that Noble Foods believes in this value, yet the company clearly intends to continue farming hens in cages for as long as possible. Stagnating because it's the easiest and most profitable thing to do is by no means courageous.

Being closer

"A closer, stronger business, working together every day to achieve our goal and vision." Perhaps executives at Noble Foods should take a step closer to the lives of the 4.3 million hens it keeps in cages. Life in a cage is no life worth living. Crammed in with up to 80 other birds, hens have little space to stretch their wings, and will never experience the light of day. They are practically unable to carry out innate behaviours which are essential for their welfare, such as scratching and dustbathing. Taking a closer look at these conditions might make certain employees of Noble Foods think twice about how proud they are to work there.

Being responsible

"Because being responsible is everyone's responsibility." Surely, being responsible for animal welfare would mean not farming millions of hens in the worst system possible? Out of all the farming systems which are currently allowed in the UK, cages have the lowest welfare standards. This certainly doesn't sound like "delivering excellence."

Being respectful

"Because being respectful is good for everyone. Respect is everything at Noble. Being respectful means respecting one another at all times." Is it respectful to keep hens in crowded, unhygienic conditions, with barely any privacy or opportunity for fulfilment? Is it respectful to refuse to respond to the concerns of nearly 70,000 people who are asking for a simple commitment to reduce suffering? We can't help but feel these statements sound remarkably hollow in the face of the facts.

Being successful

Noble claims that being successful is about "aiming higher," but its animal welfare aims are weak. Noble Foods has a policy to go 70% cage-free by 2020, while businesses across the food sector are working toward being 100% cage-free. Going cage-free would be a real success story for Noble Foods.

By carrying out activities which are in direct conflict with these values, Noble Foods has lost its integrity. Noble Foods is making a mockery of its customers by trying to position itself as an ethical company. No company should get away with such glaring double-standards. Please, if you haven't already, call on Noble Foods' CEO Dale Burnett to stop farming hens in cages by signing the petition.

P.S. Are you signed up to our Fast Action Network? It's the simplest way to help animals from home!