With a new front in the battle over animal welfare expected to open later this month, Sainsbury's has announced a ban on battery eggs, joining rivals including Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

The retailer is bringing forward a commitment to stop selling eggs laid by caged hens next year, becoming the first Big Four supermarket to phase out battery eggs. The move comes ahead of an EU ban on battery eggs that comes into force in 2012.

"We are delighted that all Sainsbury's shoppers will now enjoy higher welfare eggs whilst the other major retailers still continue with over half their eggs coming from caged hens," said Sainsbury's egg buyer Finbar Cartlidge.

The Co-operative Group has also banned eggs from battery hens, while Morrisons is committed to phasing out own-label battery eggs by 2010.

"When Sainsbury's makes a move like this it has huge impact, making animal welfare more mainstream," Compassion in World Farming food business manager Rowen West-Henzell told The Times. "They are doing the right thing on behalf of the consumer. My question to the other retailers is why aren't they responding? They've got a lot of catching up to do."

A new series of Channel 4 programmes under the banner of The Great British Food Fight kicks off this week with programmes featuring several celebrity chefs. As well as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's continuing crusade against Tesco, Jamie Oliver will kick off a new programme about the plight of the British pig industry, called Jamie Saves Our Bacon.