NSTDA in partnership with Kasetsart University and Catalyst Company Limited, a social enterprise organization, recently hosted a public seminar on cage-free egg farming with a panel of speakers from BIOTEC-NSTDA, AGRITEC-NSTDA, Kasetsart University and Catalyst. Held at Thailand Science Park on 14 June 2023, the seminar was attended by more than 200 participants from the egg industry.

Ms. Nantiya Viriyalbanthor, Director of NSTDA Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP), stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every business and industry around the world. Food producers are among the most affected sectors as consumers pay more attention to the health, safety, origin and sustainable production aspects of their food. As a result of this trend, a demand for cage-free eggs is rising due to concerns for animal welfare and antibiotics use. KASIKORN Research Center reported that the total value of the world's cage-free egg market in 2019 was USD4.98 million with a 4.75% average annual growth rate between 2020 and 2025. In contrary to the expansion of cage-free egg market, the demand for battery-cage eggs is contracting.

“The battery cage farming limits the space for caged hens to move around, resulting in high stress and illness,” said Ms. Nantiya. “Antibiotics are often used in battery farming to keep animals healthy. However, such practice can lead to antibiotic resistance and outbreaks of diseases such as bird flu. Both the public and private sectors are therefore campaigning for the shift to cage-free farming which will bring positive impact not only to the egg industry, but also to consumers.”

This seminar is part of a project to help transition the egg industry to a cage-free egg production system with strong commitment to animal welfare. Experts from the public and private sectors were invited to share their thought, experience and research work that support cage-free farming in various aspects, such as the development of microbial feed supplement to replace antibiotics. Following this seminar, ITAP will arrange experts to provide in-depth consultation to at least 10 egg producing SMEs to assist with the transition and design a train-the-trainer course to increase the number of cage-free farming consultants that will bring Thai egg industry to high animal welfare standard.