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Largest UK retailer expands white egg offering to consumers

Unprecedented demand for eggs during the Covid pandemic led UK retailers to stock white eggs in large numbers for the first time since the 1980s.

Following positive consumer feedback, Tesco, in collaboration with Noble Foods, has placed a flock of white egg laying Lohmann LSL birds into 1 of the 3 tiers in their new state-of-the art barn unit in the Midlands. The unit was completed last year as part of Tesco’s commitment to becoming cage-free by 2025.

Unprecedented demand for eggs during the Covid pandemic led UK retailers to stock white eggs in large numbers for the first time since the 1980s. Photo: Bart Nijs
Unprecedented demand for eggs during the Covid pandemic led UK retailers to stock white eggs in large numbers for the first time since the 1980s. Photo: Bart Nijs

Traditionally, British consumers have favoured brown eggs in their weekly shop. White eggs make up just 1% of total production in the UK and are mainly used by the food service sector, including fast food restaurants.

Multi-Tier system

Day-old chicks were placed onto Noble Food’s new multi-tier rearing system at the beginning of November 2020 and the pullets were moved to the laying farm at the end of February.

Noble Foods Agriculture Director for Company Farms and Retail Jean Paul Michalski said: “We’ve had experience of white birds over the years and already have a number of flocks on the ground in free-range production to further expand the journey with Tesco and their customers to introduce more white eggs onto retail shelves.”

The product offered is a mixed pack of white and brown eggs with a 30/70% ratio. Packs were launched at the Tesco stores that are serviced by the Peterborough depot and have been available since early April.

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Tesco’s Agricultural Manager for Poultry and Eggs, John Kirkpatrick, said: “This will be a great opportunity to understand how white birds compare to brown in new modern barn systems. Already it is clear to see how well the bird is adapted to use the multi-tier aviary systems with high levels of activity, reduced feed consumption, and very good egg recovery.

We feel this proposition helps us to continue to deliver healthy, sustainable, and affordable products for our Tesco customers,” he added.

NFU National Poultry board Chair Thomas Wornham said that during the lockdown periods, the union had seen customers and retailers accept white eggs at shelf-edge.

“We will be interested to see how the market for white egg progresses and what opportunities this might provide for egg producers. I know that many of our members are keen to explore the benefits the white birds has to offer, but it is important the supply chain works collaboratively in order to position the white egg favourably in front of the consumer.”