British free range egg farmers have called on supermarket giant Morrisons to stop selling Dutch free range eggs, mirroring its British only policy for the beef, pork and lamb sectors.
The retailer’s actions in continuing to sell Dutch free range eggs when supplies of British ones are plentiful has been criticised by the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) chairman Tom Vesey. “While it is possible that Morrisons had little choice but to import supplies during the difficult trading conditions that existed around Christmas 2006, that situation no longer exists.
“Our members, along with the packers, have worked very hard over the last 18 months to ensure that retailers in the UK can be supplied with British eggs all year round. Morrisons is the only major retailer failing to show 100% support for British egg producers and the Lion scheme.”
But what has irritated egg farmers is the retailer’s current series of TV ads and banners outside its stores highlighting its support for the British beef, pork and lamb sectors.
In defence of its policy, Morrisons told BFREPA: “As part of our commitment to selling own label cage-free shell eggs by 2010, we have introduced a small proportion of Dutch free range eggs into a limited number of stores as a trial to encourage customers to move to free range.
“These eggs are RSPCA Freedom Food accredited, which ensures that they have been reared on a farm that meets higher welfare standards set by the RSPCA.
“We price our Dutch eggs the same as our standard eggs, making them affordable for everyone. Animal welfare is extremely important in the sourcing of our produce and we are committed to reduce the amount of cage eggs within our business.”
Meanwhile, BFREPA has seen success with Somerfield. It was the first major British retailer to import free range eggs back in late 2006 and it has now committed itself to selling only UK-produced eggs.