Sometimes, small changes can make a big difference. One change that British consumers can make is switching from large eggs to a range of egg sizes to help farmers, hens and retailers.
Consumer preference means medium eggs – which are just as nutritious and tasty – are worth less at the farm gate and more will be sent for processing rather than sold as a fresh shell egg.
Consumers eat almost 13 billion eggs in Britain every year, according to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, and the majority of shoppers prefer large or very large eggs as opposed to medium or mixed weight boxes. This creates a supply imbalance since only “half the eggs laid by British free-range hens are classed as large or very large, which means that half are medium or small,” according to James Baxter, a free range egg farmer and chairman of BFREPA.
This imbalance can be exacerbated by external factors such as weather — in 2018 hot weather lead to hens eating less and therefore laying more eggs that were graded as medium. Furthermore, “hens naturally lay smaller eggs when they are younger and the size increases as birds get bigger,” according to Baxter.
BFREPA is trying to address this imbalance by launching a campaign to encourage consumers to buy a range of sizes since this is the way that hens naturally lay. This shift in buying habits would be better for hens and farmers alike, according to Baxter. The current preferences mean that “medium eggs – which are just as nutritious and tasty – are worth less at the farm gate and more will be sent for processing rather than sold as a fresh shell egg.”
Their campaign began with the launch of a video that featured free-range egg farmer Susie Macmillan and 18,000 of her organic free-range hens. In a slightly unpolished looking video, which only serves to add authenticity, Macmillan walks the viewer through her family farm and the benefits of encouraging consumers to buy what chickens naturally lay — a range of sizes. The video obviously struck a chord with consumers, gaining more than 30,000 views in the first 72 hours — a number that now stands at more than 86,000.
Farm shops could get involved by promoting the campaign and help to inform their customers’ choices by providing information. This not only helps the farmers, the hens and BFREPA but the farm shop itself by increasing the range of goods they can sell and establishing their business as one that is in touch with farmers, changing trends and local foods. Furthermore, if a farm shop has its own egg supply, consumer education will ultimately help improve the price of medium and small eggs.