Two of the North-East's best-known egg producers - Sunny Hill Free Range Eggs and Lintz Hall Farm - are joining forces in a move intended to deliver economies of scale.
Following the merger in early September, Sunny Hill will focus on egg production at Detchant Farm in Northumberland, with packing, marketing and distribution taking place at Lintz Hall's Burnopfield site, south-east of Newcastle.
The two businesses' existing brands - namely Sunny Hill, Oxenrig, Derwent Valley and Premier Quality eggs - are all set to remain.
"We've worked with Lintz Hall in the past," said Sunny Hill partner, Catherine Armstrong. "Following a change in our structure last year, we had to decide whether to invest time and capital to take the business forward, or just concentrate on production. Lintz Hall had already made the investment on the grading side, so we've decided to join with them."
Lintz Hall Farm and Sunny Hill Free Range Eggs are both family-run farming businesses.
The Tulip family, who operate from Lintz Hall Farm, are the oldest producers of eggs in the north-east of England, having been in the business for 60 years. Current directors Stephen and Richard Tulip are the fourth generation to run the business.
The company has a combined flock of nearly 200,000 birds, of which about 70,000 are colony birds and 130,000 are free range - including some contracted producers.
Sunny Hill Free Range Eggs was established in 2005 by the Jackson family, now keeping 56,000 laying hens in five sheds on a predominantly arable farm.
It has a strong market mix, with 80% of the eggs being sold to greengrocers, delicatessens, farm shops and selected branches of Asda, Morrisons and Tesco. The company took on the Oxenrig brand in 2008, giving it access to a share of the Scottish market.
• Sunny Hill Free Range Eggs was a finalist in last year's Farmers Weekly Poultry Farmer of the Year Award