Angry customers are swarming Aldi’s Facebook page and demanding the supermarket giant stop selling caged eggs.
The comments come after Aldi encouraged people to comment on a now-deleted Facebook post with their best animal joke.
Aldi’s Facebook page has since been overrun by people still wanting to give the supermarket a good telling-off.
“Please stop selling battery hen eggs,” one woman wrote.
“I will only buy from stores who [sic] do not stock these. I have gone back to Coles. The world is changing. To run a successful retil business you need to change with it.”
Another customer questioned why Aldi wasn’t phasing out caged eggs like its competitors.
Woolworths became the first major Australian supermarket to announce it is phasing out cage eggs from its supply chain two years ago.
“My family and I used to be active Aldi customers, but since you have refused to stop selling eggs from hens who live in pain and confinement in cages their whole lives, we will no longer be shopping there until this policy is modernised,” the customer wrote.
Anti-caged egg comments are even appearing on posts that have nothing to do with eggs, including one post about baked peaches that appeared over the weekend.
However Aldi has received some support, with one person asking the supermarket giant not to cave in to “self-appointed justice warriors”.
“We live in a democracy,” one man wrote.
“They have the right to shop elsewhere. Hundreds have puffed out their pompous chests and whined about your products. Alternatively, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of shoppers buy regularly from Aldi.”
Crisis communications expert Nicole Matejic told SmartCompany Aldi appears to have “lost control of its own conversation”.
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“It’s really hard to try and pull customers back to a ‘business as usual’ schedule,” Matejic says.
“You’ve got to let customers get it out of their system. It’s about understanding where people are at and what they’re interested in talking about.”
However, social media backlash is not all bad news, according to Matejic, because it can teach businesses how to communicate better.
“It’s free market research,” she says.
Aldi to continue selling both caged and free-range eggs
In a statement issued to SmartCompany, an Aldi spokesperson said the supermarket would continue to offer customers the choice between caged, barn and free-range eggs.
“We will continue to provide our customers with these three options,” the spokesperson said.
“By offering a range of quality eggs, consumers can make their purchasing decisions based on value and affordability.”
The spokesperson stressed Aldi clearly labels all of its eggs and complies with industry standards.
The states and territories last month agreed to set a national definition for free range eggs.
The new rules will mean in order for brands to label eggs as free-range, hens will have to have “meaningful and regular access to the outdoors”, with an outdoor stocking density of no more than 10,000 birds per hectare.