Mon, 09 Oct 2017
UK - The British Free Range Egg Producers Association says its members will innovate and invest to meet any rise in demand for their product.
The association says that a decision by the UK’s major retailers to only source non-cage eggs from 2025 will take about 775 million eggs a year off supermarket shelves.
The shortfall is expected to be met by both barn and free range systems.
Meanwhile, a population increase and steady growth in market share in the years leading up to 2025 are likely to organically grow sales of free range.
Speaking at BFREPA’s annual conference in Birmingham today, chief executive Robert Gooch said: "The free range sector has grown rapidly to occupy about 60 per cent market share of retail egg sales, produced by over 20 million hens.
"We have a great track record in producing a safe, quality product that consumers value enormously and, while 2025 may seem a long way off, our members are looking ahead at how they can meet any increase in demand.
"We are perfectly positioned to deliver what retailers and major food brands need, and we urge them to make British free range eggs a major part of their sourcing policy going forward."
Mr Gooch added that the recent Fipronil scandal, which affected Dutch eggs sold in products in major supermarkets, highlighted the risks associated with relying on imported food.
"The case for sourcing more British eggs is overwhelming. We have a ready-made assurance scheme in the form of the Lion Code which delivers everything that retailers need and consumers demand."
A sustainability report commissioned by BFREPA earlier this year estimated that if demand for free range eggs from major retailers increases by 5 per cent in 2025 then an additional 1.8 million laying hens are required.
That number jumps to 2.7 million hens if demand grows by 10 per cent.
Mr Gooch said: "Conservative estimates are that the required investment from the free range sector to meet a 5 per cent increase in demand would be £58 million in new housing and equipment alone.
"Free range producers are not afraid of investment and expansion provided they have the confidence that there will be a market for their product.
"This is why it is important that retailers are clear and committed to British free range egg producers, and that they set out their procurement plans for post 2025 as soon as possible."