EGG providers in Central Victoria say the future of the industry is thinking outside the cage.
A move toward free range eggs was given renewed support yesterday with Woolworths detailing plans to phase out eggs from caged hens within five years.
The overhaul comes after Coles announced it would stop selling company-branded caged eggs in October last year.
Kean Free Range Eggs manager Harley Kean said there has been a growing movement toward free range.
"We've been trying to promote free range for a while," he said.
"I think there definitely has been a growing demand. People are looking at the welfare side of it, that's the big thing."
Mr Kean said their Huntly farm has been entirely free range for more than 10 years. He said it was more expensive to produce free range but he was glad that strong market interest remained, despite the higher prices.
"It will be interesting to see what happens once Woolworths only offer free range, hopefully people support it."
Goldfields Free Range Eggs in Gisborne said they were struggling to keep up with demand. Owners Allison and Richard Bayly said they had seen a rapid growth in the free range egg market in recent years.
"It's good for the industry," Mrs Bayly said. "The only problem we've got is getting enough hens to keep up."
Mrs Bayly said it was good for the industry that people were avoiding buying items from birds kept inside cages.
Bendigo Animal Welfare and Community Services president Debbie Edwards praised Woolworths plan.
Ms Edwards said she was hopeful of seeing a day when there were no caged hens.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) raised concerns the move would hurt the egg industry.
VFF egg group president Brian Ahmed said it was important to give consumers choice and free range eggs may be unaffordable for some.
“This move by Woolworths is a massive loss for consumer choice," Mr Ahmed said.