Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thoughts on the Wegmans Boycott

Many friends of mine quite naturally boycott Wegmans out of personal reasons. They can't stomach regularly handing hundreds of dollars of cash to a company "whose influence," as one corrections officer put it, "is the reason you went to jail."

A boycott of all Wegmans products is more of a symbolic move that an action intended to bring the company to its knees. I can completely understand why people - after seeing what Wegmans does to animals when they think nobody's watching - would want to withdraw their economic support from the operation.

Compassionate Consumers isn't calling for a boycott, but we support people who do. Whether individuals or families decide to buy cage-free eggs, boycott all animal products, or refuse to shop at Wegmans, they're making an ethical choice that should be admired.

Wegmans has a "Nature's Marketplace" because they make more money off of those products than they do conventional products, not out of their love for vegetarians. If cage-free eggs are considered "Nature's Marketplace" products, then the Wegmans Cruelty campaign has increased the number of natural shoppers more than it could ever take away.

That's one of the biggest problems with the campaign - cage free eggs only cost 5 to 10 cents more per carton to produce. Companies that sell exclusively cage-free eggs often charge little or nothing more for those eggs than companies that sell battery cage eggs. If Wegmans simply did the right thing and stopped selling battery cage eggs, they would lose out on their market for "upscale" cage-free eggs. The Wegmans Cruelty campaign currently serves as free advertising for these pricey eggs.

Anyone who's been to the egg section of their Wegmans will probably be amazed at the number of cage-free eggs available. This represents chickens living much better lives than they would at Wegmans Egg Farm. But this also probably represents more money for Wegmans and less incentive to change.

It's hard to know what's right, so we encourage any positive step that people take.

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