It is an end of an era at Humphrey Feeds this week as the company called time on its egg business after 85 years of trading.
The company, which will now concentrate on its pullet rearing and feed business, began selling eggs in 1932 when John Humphrey – after been pensioned out of the RAF following an injury – bought land at Twyford, Hampshire to develop a free-range enterprise.
During the Second World War, 2 second-hand houses with cages were purchased and eventually held 2,000 and 1,344 birds, and the business started producing 120 cases a week along with 2,000 head of mated stock.
Peter Humphrey, Humphrey Feeds managing director, holding the original egg bookscredit of humphrey feeds. Photo: Humphrey Feeds
Economics prompted decision to end barn egg production
Peter Humphrey, Humphrey Feeds managing director, said the decision to stop producing barn eggs had been one based on economics.
“We decided in 2012 when the cage ban was introduced not to reinvest in new colony units and we took the opportunity to go into barn eggs and supply Noble Foods.
“Unfortunately, sales of barn eggs haven’t increased as we would have liked – and in fact have gone down.
“Noble Foods found themselves with a surplus of barn eggs and asked us to stop production. Our last barn eggs have left the farm this week.”
Mr Humphrey said it was ironic, as since the decision had been made one of Noble Foods’ major retailers had announced that it would phase out colony eggs by 2025 to concentrate on barn and free range.
Humphrey Feeds to focus on pullet rearing
He still believes that the sector has a bright future, pointing to the success of barn production in Holland and Germany and the issues that have arisen around the avian influenza outbreak in the UK this winter.
Humphrey Feeds will continue to concentrate on growing its burgeoning pullet rearing business, which now supplies producers in an area south of the Wash.
“The business is doing really well and we are now supplying across East Anglia and even in to Yorkshire,” added Mr Humphrey.
Demand in the feed business is also growing and Mr Humphrey said the company had established a 10 year plan for the future: “This covers investment for the future and continuing to build our customer base,” he added.