The UK’s largest egg packer is to launch a recruitment campaign at this year’s British Pig and Poultry Fair, to meet growing consumer demand for free-range eggs.

As Noble Foods CEO Michael Kent points out, despite significant increases in the price of free-range eggs in the past 12 months demand is still rising.

“This is a strong position to be in,” he told more than 400 producer suppliers at the company’s recent roadshows. “And we will need more supplies to meet the anticipated growth of 10% this year.”

Meeting this demand will come from new and existing suppliers and improvements in efficiency right through the chain will play a part. “It’s important that producers go for that extra egg and ensure top quality all the way through.”

“And for our part, we must continue to build long-term relationships with retailers as well as add value to the free-range egg sector through innovative brand development and packaging.

He then highlighted that the company had invested £3.5m in the free-range sector and £4.5m on its main packing centre (more in next month’s issue) in a state-or-the-art packing centre in the past 12 months and there’s more to come.”

Phenomenal growth

Noble marketing director Finn Cottle described the growth in free range of at least 15% in the first three months of 2008 as phenomenal. And she sees no reason for a reversal of this trend, spotting great opportunities within the sector.

“A recent survey across 1000 consumers showed us that 60% buy eggs weekly but 35% limit their egg consumption for a number of reasons there’s some myths to dispel here – eggs are the best value protein available.

“And the majority of those questioned buy the same eggs week-in-week-out out of habit – we’ve come a long way in package development but there’s still a lot of scope for differentiating products on the shelf.”

 See Noble Foods on stand 30.

Noble Foods:

  • Anticipated 10% free-range growth
  • Invested £3.5m in free-range sector
  • Invested £4.5m on packing centre