NEW YORK – Walgreens officials announced the pharmacy and healthcare chain will transition to using only cage-free eggs at all of its 9,102 locations in the United States by the end of the year. The company’s previous commitment to require suppliers of its shell eggs and liquid eggs targeted a compliance date of 2025.

Vicky Bond, president of The Humane League, an animal rights group largely responsible for pressuring Walgreen in previous months to step up its animal welfare policies, urged other retailers in the retail pharmacy space to follow Walgreens’ lead.

“We applaud Walgreens for its decision to switch to cage-free eggs much sooner than initially planned. This step will reduce the suffering of countless egg-laying hens,” Bond said.  “Socially responsible companies like Walgreens will no longer source eggs from hens kept in cruel battery cages, and we hope that companies like Rite Aid will follow the lead of Walgreens and CVS, which also pledged to sell only cage-free eggs by the end of this year.”

In April, CVS Health Corp. announced its plans to move up its self-imposed deadline for converting to cage-free eggs and egg products to the end of 2022 at its 9,900 locations. Previously CVS announced it would make the change by 2025.

The Humane League, pointed out that more than 2,000 food companies across the globe have made cage-free commitments, including 100 international firms. Among those companies are: Burger King, Shake Shack, Kraft Heinz, Aldi, Sodexo, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin.