SEATTLE — Costco Wholesale Corp. recently announced that it will ban the use of cages for chickens in its global egg supply. The company said it was the first US retailer to issue a global policy on the confinement of animals in its supply chain.

“We are in the process of making that transition [to cage-free eggs],” said Josh Dahmen, financial planning and investor relations director for Costco. “We will continue to increase the percentage over time, with a goal of eventually getting to 100%, although this may take several years in some countries, due to issues with availability.”

Costco’s new policy applies to all of its markets including mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, Canada and Europe. The US sale of caged eggs has been banned in recent years in Washington, Costco’s home state, along with California, Oregon, Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado.

“In addition to focusing on animal welfare because it is the right thing to do, Costco believes failure to do so would create risks for the business and its shareholders,” the company said in its updated animal welfare policy. “The failure to provide adequately for the welfare of animals throughout Costco’s supply chain could have significant adverse effects on the business and operations of the company and its investors.”

The wholesaler currently has 239 international stores. International locations account for nearly a third of the company’s total store count.

“We applaud Costco for this landmark decision to use only cage-free eggs throughout its global supply chain,” said Kirsty Tuxford, program manager with Lever Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based animal protection nonprofit that worked with Costco for the past two years on making the commitment.