It’s 10 years ago this week that the UK egg industry launched the Lion egg and in that time, it has successfully turned around the industry’s fortunes with egg sales now on the rise and a healthy image with consumers.
See six more Lion Eggs TV ads:
The UK shell egg market has returned to growth this year with retail sales predicted to be about 200,000 cases up on 1999.
This is in stark contrast with the situation in 2007 when the sector was still struggling years after the Edwina Currie salmonella crisis in 1988.
As British Egg Industry Council chairman Andrew Parker recalled: “In every food poisoning outbreak, eggs were being blamed. We were not seen to be responsible as an industry and egg consumption was declining.
“Consumers had not fully returned to buying eggs. It wasn’t just consumers, cook books and chefs steered clear of eggs too,” he said.
“So in 1997, we carried out extensive consumer research to find out why,” said Amanda Cryer, director of the British Egg Information Service.
“It revealed that consumers were still worried about eggs and health, particularly mothers. They also saw modern convenience foods as being more exciting than eggs. And a lack of advertising was exacerbating the problem.”
The industry decided something had to be done, as there was still great underlying potential for growth. And there was a technological development with a new salmonella vaccine for poultry.
So the BEIC launched the Lion egg with help from a Poultry World campaign asking for producers to sign up. “We got £0.5m on the back of the Poultry World article,” said Mr Parker.
In total, the industry invested £8m, half for implementing the new code, including vaccination, and the rest for a concerted advertising campaign. A key part of the marketing campaign has been the TV adverts, the first one appearing in 1999.
But it wasn’t until 2001 when Lion saw the real benefit, with a government report showing that human cases of salmonella were declining. Then three years later, Edwina Curry herself endorsed Lion eggs as safe.
This was the ultimate endorsement for the industry, said Ms Cryer.