Icelandic consumers are increasingly aware of animal welfare in their consumption of animal products. If you go to a supermarket, you will find a few brands of eggs, and brown eggs produced by Brunegg that are 40% more expensive than the “normal” eggs, have been very popular, because they have promised ecological production, where the birds welfare is a priority, the packaging even states that the birds are cared for with love. No wonder they are so popular. The Icelandic consumer seems willing to pay a bit more to buy a product that prioritizes animal welfare. This is a rather new devolvement of awareness in Iceland, and words like ecological, free range, happy farm etc. are new buzzwords in the Icelandic food industry.
Recent laws concerning animal welfare took effect on 1 January 2014 and for the first time in those laws animals are regarded as sensible beings with their own right to existence regardless of the use humans have of them or economical gain. There are also clear regulations regarding farm- or food industry workers usage of words like free range, biological and ecological about their own product. The inspections and follow-ups on those regulations are however very loose and according to a new report the Icelandic consumer has been duped for years with the full knowledge of authorities. For years the birds have suffered bird cholera and are only removed from the cramped houses when they die from sickness. They live out their existence in in cramped and appallingly unsanitary conditions, directly against the law with the full knowledge of the inspection authorities. Brunegg’s price tags are still much higher than the price of none ecological eggs and have been for years. This year the inspection institution gave an order to confiscate the birds and euthanize them and halt the egg production at Brunegg. They have since received an exemption and respite to better the conditions in the birdhouses. Since RUV’s report last night, the Icelandic consumer is outraged and there are outcries and petitions to boycott Brunegg’s products are loud. Brunegg has now euthanized 140.000 birds to make space for the birds.