At Publix, we are committed to providing our customers with a premier shopping experience, which includes a wide selection of quality products, friendly and helpful service, and superior value. We understand eggs are an affordable way for families to incorporate protein into their diets, and many of these families are interested in the source of their food. We understand the high standards expected of us and will continue to work to provide our customers with quality products and a variety of choices, while ensuring food safety and animal welfare.
Because we take concerns about animal welfare seriously, we have been diligently working with our egg suppliers, industry leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to better understand the timing of converting our shell egg supply to completely cage-free, while meeting customer demand, remaining affordable, and maintaining animal health and safety. In addition to animal welfare concerns, there are several other factors to consider: the higher costs and retail price associated with cage-free eggs, the speed of this industry change, current WIC regulations preventing the purchase of cage-free eggs in the areas where we operate, and the ability of smaller farms to remain in business while making necessary investments.
Since making our announcement in 2016, we have increased the number of cage free egg options by 27%. Now, over 50% of our total shell egg offerings are cage free. In 2017 we furthered our efforts by lowering the price point of some cage free options, however, our customers continue to choose traditional offerings, which may impact our ability to reach our stated goal. We’ve partnered with some of our cage free egg suppliers to offer discounts throughout 2018 in our weekly ad, but until customer choice and conversion rates increase, our ability to expand this program will remain challenging.
We appreciate the trust our customers place in us to do the right thing and will continue to work to provide our customers with quality products and a variety of choices, while ensuring food safety and animal welfare. We are committed to moving forward with this challenging and complex effort and will continue to work toward being 100 percent cage free by 2026.