Adam Henson at Bfrepa

Consumers need to be told more about the outstanding UK poultry and egg products so that they can be encouraged to buy more British goods, according to farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson.

Mr Henson, best known for his work on the BBC’s Countryfile, said the industry needed to better promote its welfare, environment and employment work, which had greatly benefited from legislation and accreditation schemes.

Speaking at the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) conference in Birmingham, Mr Henson said the sector often neglected to tell consumers about its success stories.

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“Your industry has left the public behind. Some don’t even know where eggs come from. We need to shout about the Red Lion and the Red Tractor and the RSPCA Freedom Foods schemes.”

Mr Henson said few consumers understood that some free-range producers now had 32,000 birds housed in multi-tier systems. But there were opportunities to highlight and promote their excellent welfare standards.

He added it was important that there was no infighting in the industry between the benefits of indoor- or outdoor-reared birds, citing the organic sector as an example of what can go wrong.

“The organic movement made the mistake in making a range of health claims that proved wrong, and that created real doubt among consumers, who moved away from eating organic products,” he said.

Mr Henson, who runs the Cotswold Farm Park, near Cheltenham, which attracts 120,000 people a year, urged egg producers to think about their brand values, ensure they had a strong business plan, good risk management in place and were marketing themselves appropriately.

“I believe agriculture is on the crest of a wave at the moment but you need to ride the wave very carefully and responsibly – being open, honest and truthful at all times.”

Myles Thomas, Bfrepa chairman, said the sector was conscious of getting across positive messages to consumers, citing its work around the Love Free Range Eggs brand and accompanying social media work.