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The best and worst supermarket free-range eggs

Are your supermarket eggs as free-range as they appear?

best and worst free range eggs in supermarket
Last updated: 30 April 2020

Go to the egg aisle these days and you'll likely be overwhelmed with choice: free-range, organic, biodynamic, RSPCA approved, pasture-raised, cage-free, barn laid. What does any of it mean? 

If you're happy to pay a premium for free-range eggs, then you'd expect that eggs labelled 'free-range' actually come from hens that get to scratch around in the dirt and spread their wings, right? But how can you tell if your money is actually buying better conditions?

The government standard vs the Model Code of Practice

While the government has put a standard in place for free-range eggs, it's far from what most people would expect. The standard allows producers to pack 10,000 hens into a hectare with no requirement for the hens to actually spend any time outdoors. That's only one square metre per chook. 

In contrast, the CSIRO's Model Code of Practice says there should be a maximum of 1500 hens per hectare on an open range. That's less than six times the government standard, and far more room for chooks to have dust baths and enjoy the fresh air – all those things that chooks love to do.

Which one sounds more like free-range to you?

CluckAR logo filler
AR screenshot CluckAR 2 good eggs

The CHOICE CluckAR app in action. These are good eggs!

AR screenshot CluckAR 4 bad eggs

At 10,000 hens per hectare, these are bad eggs!

Why it's so hard to tell which eggs are true free-range

Unfortunately, it's often pretty difficult to tell which products meet the Model Code definition of free-range. And one free-range brand may have a very different stocking density to another.

That's why we created CluckAR – it's an app that helps you identify genuine free-range eggs in the supermarket so you can make sure you're putting your money towards eggs that come from happier hens. You can use your smartphone to scan the carton, and it'll give you information about the stocking density and whether or not it meets the Model Code. 

The CluckAR app is available for iOS and Android:

Here's a quick guide to the best and worst free-range eggs you'll find in supermarkets. All the figures we've quoted here are based on self-declarations of maximum outdoor stocking density, provided to us either directly by egg producers or via claims on their packaging and advertising material.

Want to know exactly what's available in your state? Check our comprehensive list of all free-range eggs available in each state or download the CluckAR app. 

cluckar interface egg list

The CluckAR app lists stocking densities for egg producers around the country.

Woolworths

If you're shopping at Woolies, here are some of the best and worst egg brands you may find in your local store. Please note that availability of certain brands varies in supermarkets across Australia so some may not be mentioned here. The best thing to do is download the CluckAR app so you can find the best option while instore. 

woolies macro organic

Woolworths Macro Organic free-range eggs. Stocking density: 1000 hens per hectare.

The best free-range eggs at Woolworths:

  • Yallamundi Farm: 750 hens/hectare
  • Woolworths Macro Organic: 1000 hens/hectare
  • Sunny Queen: 1500 hens/hectare 
  • Sunny Queen Organic: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Josh's Rainbow Eggs: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Happy Hens Organic: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Canobolas: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Flanno's Free Range: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Golden Eggs: 1500 hens/hectare
pace farm free range

Pace Farm free-range eggs. Stocking density: 10,000 hens per hectare.

The worst free-range eggs at Woolworths:

  • Pace Farm: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Woolworths Select: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Eco Eggs: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Port Stephens: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Simply Eggs: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Veggs for Families: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Country Fresh: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Sun Valley: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Valley Brook: 10,000 hens/hectare

Coles

When you're shopping at Coles, look out for these good eggs and bad eggs that you may find in your local store. Please note that availability of certain brands varies in supermarkets across Australia so some may not be mentioned here. The best thing to do is download the CluckAR app so you can find the best option while instore. 

sunny queen free range eggs

Sunny Queen Free Range Eggs. Stocking density: 1500 hens per hectare.

The best free-range eggs at Coles:

  • Hens of the Earth Eggs: 500 hens/hectare
  • Family Homestead: 750 hens/hectare
  • Sunny Queen Free Range Eggs: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Sunny Queen Organic: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Lucky Chicken Eggs: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Coles Certified Organic: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Flanno's Free Range: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Golden Eggs Free Range: 1500 hens/hectare
  • The Good Farmer: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Bloom Free Range: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Margaret River Free Range: 1500 hens/hectare
coles free range

Coles free-range eggs. Stocking density: 10,000 hens per hectare.

The worst free-range eggs at Coles: 

  • Coles Free Range Eggs: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Pace Farm: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Veggs for Families: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Day's Eggs: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • McLaren Vale Free Range: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Eco Eggs: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Tassie Devil: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Valley Brook: 10,000 hens/hectare
lodge farm eggs

Lodge Farm Free Range Eggs. Stocking density: 10,000 hens per hectare.

Free-range eggs at Aldi

Aldi only stocks one brand of free-range eggs: Lodge Farm. While this producer's stocking density (just!) meets the government standard, it's nowhere near meeting the Model Code. 

Aldi's Lodge Farm Free Range Eggs have a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare. They may be cheap at $3.99 a dozen, but they're certainly not what we would call true free-range eggs.

IGA

As IGA supermarkets are independently owned, the free-range egg brands they stock differ from suburb to suburb. Here are some of the brands we were able to track down (but bear in mind it's by no means a comprehensive list). For the full range of eggs, your best bet is to download the CluckAR app or read our detailed list of free-range egg brands that meet the Model Code.

The best free-range eggs at IGA: 

  • Emu Creek: 1500 hens/hectare
community co eggs

Community Co Free Range Eggs. Stocking density: 10,000 hens per hectare.

The worst free-range eggs at IGA:

  • IGA Signature: this producer does not publicly state their stocking density and has failed to give us this information, so we can't say whether their eggs are actually free-range or not.
  • Community Co: 10,000 hens/hectare

Harris Farm Markets

Stocking many premium products, Harris Farm Markets sells a wide range of free-range eggs. Here's how their free-range products stack up in terms of stocking density.

Please note that availability of certain brands varies in supermarkets across Australia so some may not be mentioned here. The best thing to do is download the CluckAR app so you can find the best option while instore. 

gunning bum nuts

Gunning Bum Nuts free-range eggs. Stocking density: 200 hens per hectare.

The best free-range eggs at Harris Farm Markets:

  • Hilltops: 45 hens/hectare
  • Gunning Bum Nuts: 200 hens/hectare
  • Mulloon Creek Biodynamic: 350 hens/hectare
  • Yallamundi: 750 hens/hectare
  • Farmer Rod's: 1250 hens/hectare
  • Narringa Homestead: 1500 hens/hectare
  • Harris Farm: 1500 hens/hectare

The worst free-range eggs at Harris Farm Markets:

  • Sunshine Farms: 10,000 hens/hectare
  • Pirovic Free Range: 10,000 hens/hectare
pirovic

Pirovic Free Range Eggs. Stocking density: 10,000 hens per hectare.

The worst of the worst

Not only did these egg producers fail to meet the government free-range egg standard - they also lied about it. 

These producers were all fined by the ACCC for misrepresenting their products as free-range eggs when their hens were more densely stocked than the standard of 10,000 hens per hectare and/or didn't have access to the outdoors on a regular basis. 

These are the brands that were involved:

  • Ecoeggs
  • Port Stephens Free Range Eggs
  • Field Fresh Free Range Eggs
  • Pirovic Eggs
  • Mountain Range
  • Drakes Home Brand Free Range
  • Eggs by Ellah
  • Swan Valley Free Range 
  • Wanneroo Free Range

How to make sure the free-range eggs you're buying are really free-range

If you're dissatisfied with the offerings at your local Coles or Woolworths, how can you get hold of truly free-range eggs? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Shop direct from the producers, such as at farmers' markets or by organising a buying group to source eggs from a true free-range producer (we did this here at CHOICE; our Egg Club is legendary and wildly popular!). 
  • Go to independent stores like organic grocers and ask them about their suppliers' stocking densities (or check their brands on the CluckAR app). 
  • Get your own chooks! If you have a backyard large enough, chooks can be a reasonably low-maintenance pet, and if you only have a few, you'll have access to genuine free-range eggs on a regular basis.