Walmart to sell only cage-free eggs by 2025

If it hadn't already, the cage-free egg movement is now mainstream.

Retailing giant Walmart (WMT) on Tuesday announced a goal of transitioning to a 100 percent cage-free supply chain by 2025, joining a long list of companies including fast-food behemoth McDonald's (MCD) to announce plans to make the switch, under varying timelines.

"Our customers and associates count on Walmart and Sam's Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised," Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart, said in a statement.

The company has offered cage-free eggs at its stores since 2001, it said.

Animal-welfare groups, which lobbied Walmart to make the move, applauded it.

"Since September, when McDonald's announced its cage-free policy, we knew that we had turned the corner in the fight against battery cages, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the U.S., stated. "But today, that debate ends, and the trajectory is clear. The era of confining hens in cages in America's food system is officially sunsetting."

And Leah Garces, Compassion in World Farming's U.S. director, said she expected Walmart's step would have ripple effects overseas, particular in the European Union and Australia, "where retailers are starting to fall behind."