M&S drives free-range Marks and Spencer has introduced 700,000 laying hens this spring as part of its aim to be the first food retailer to completely remove battery eggs from its food range. The drive will see hundreds of products right down to the glazing on sausage rolls being made using only free-range eggs. The conversion will be complete by September. Marks and Spencer has been steadily working in close partnership with its suppliers to remove the use of battery eggs in its food products since 1997. For every one egg it sells, M&S uses five eggs in its prepared foods. Consumers have been influential in helping free range and barn egg production double from under a billion eggs in 1994 to over 2.1 billion in 2001, according to the RSPCA's Freedom Food scheme. Free range and barn eggs now account for 28% of total production compared to just 15% in 1994, with battery egg production decreasing from 85.5% in 1994 to 72% in 2001 [DEFRA]. More than one billion eggs produced in 2001 carried the Freedom Food trademark, compared to just over one million in 1994. Twenty five million laying hens were kept in battery cage systems in 2001, with under 10 million living in free-range or barn systems. Meanwhile the NFU reports that free-range eggs are "tight at the moment, and a lot of packers are saying they wished they had them because the market is there". Barn eggs seem to equating supply with demand, the union added. {{CANNED GOODS }}