UK retailer Morrisons has said it has started selling eggs from caged hens under its M savers own-label range to “take control” of its supply chain.

The retailer has faced criticism from animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) following its decision to introduce eggs from caged hens under the M Savers line. CIWF described the move as “negative” and a “backward step” and stripped Morrisons of an award it gave to the retailer four years ago.

However, a spokesperson for Morrisons said the retailer had sold eggs from caged hens previously under a tertiary brand Star Lay.

He added: “Pretty much all supermarkets sell eggs from caged hens. What we decided was that rather than selling the eggs using this tertiary brand we were going to take control and sell these under our own M Savers brand. We want to have control over the supply chain, so rather than selling branded caged eggs we want to sell them as our own brand.”

Steve McIvor, director of food business for CIWF, said the move by Morrisons comes at a time when other retailer across Europe, including Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Food and Ocado “are taking positive steps to improve welfare”

“This is a really surprising and unfortunate decision by Morrisons and goes against the general retail trend,” he added.