Australia has signed off on a free-range egg standard in the hope it will provide “better information” for consumers.

Kelly O’Dwyer, Australia’s minister for small business, as well as her state and territory counterparts, considered reforms including country-of-origin labelling and the establishment of a free-range egg standard.

The new information standard for free range eggs will require hens to have “meaningful and regular access” to the outdoors, with outdoor stocking of no more than one hen per square metre for a maximum of 10,000 hens per hectare.

Farmers of free range eggs will also be required to “prominently disclose their outdoor stocking density” of hens, allowing consumers to choose their preference.

Ministers agreed to the standard following a consultation process which began in October 2015 with nearly 10,000 consumers, farmers, retailers and advocacy groups providing input.

“I am pleased we have been able to collaborate across state and territory borders to bring forward these reforms, which will help improve consumers’ information and confidence when they purchase free range eggs,” O’Dwyer said. “The new information standard also provides certainty for farmers which will help encourage innovation and investment in the industry.”