General Mills to use only cage-free eggs in U.S. by 2025

Eggs from mainland China are seen at a wholesale market in Hong Kong October 27, 2008. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) - General Mills Inc GIS.N will use only cage-free eggs in its U.S. operations by 2025, it said on Tuesday, marking the first time the packaged food company has given a timeline for the switch.

The maker of products including Betty Crocker cake mixes and Cheerios cereal said in July that it was working toward using exclusively cage-free eggs in its products but did not provide specifics on when the process would be completed.

The move comes at a time when the food industry is under pressure from groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals and World Animal Protection, which have successfully lobbied many companies to adopt animal welfare practices.

“General Mills is further demonstrating that confining hens in cages has no place within our food system. We applaud the company for its great work,” said Josh Balk, senior food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States

Competitor Kellogg Co K.N said in October that it will source 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025. Fast-food companies have made similar announcements. McDonald's Corp MCD.N said in September that its 16,000 U.S. and Canadian restaurants will serve only eggs laid by cage-free chickens within 10 years while rival Burger King [BKCBK.UL] already has committed to using only cage-free eggs by 2017.

Reporting by Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis