Free-range Lion egg producers can increase their external stocking rates from 1 January, 2009, to help the industry meet growing consumer demand.

The decision was taken at a recent meeting of the BEIC Lion code subscribers which will see the stocking rate doubled from 1000 to 2000/ha. This is still below the EU egg marketing regulations, which allows a density of 2500/ha.

BEIC chief executive Mark Williams explained: “It was an important decision in the light of still-growing demand for free-range eggs. With the looming 2012 conventional cage ban, we needed to start the process of bringing more free-range egg production on board to meet the anticipated increase in demand.”

It means producers can have more birds in the same free-range area. It is a quicker process to add buildings to an existing unit than start the process for getting planning for a new site.

BEIC hopes that RSPCA Freedom Food, which currently has a limit of 1000/ha, would go along with the move.