Close-up of eggs© FLPA/Rex Shutterstock

One of the UK’s major farm assurance schemes – RSPCA Assured – is planning major expansion plans over the next five years.

The scheme, which still operates as Freedom Food at farm level and covers more than 50% of the country’s egg production, aims to grow membership numbers by 3% a year between now and 2019 and expand the number of species it covers to 13.

It also aims to increase revenues by 5% each year, with the ambition of ending its grant from the RSPCA by the end of this year, and being financially self-sufficient by the end of 2019.

See also: RSPCA Assured launches TV ad

Jez Cooper, RSPCA chief executive, told delegates at the recent British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association annual meeting in Birmingham that he was delighted how the RSPCA Assured brand had been received by consumers since it was launched in September.

The TV campaign, which featured actor Sir John Hurt, had reached nine million UK customers, while the online advert had reached eight million. Web traffic had increased nearly threefold during the campaign.

Customer awareness of the RSPCA Assured brand had reached 26%, higher than the 24% recognition levels for Freedom Food, despite the brand being established in 1994.

Up to 76% of consumers said they were likely to buy RSPCA Assured products, associating the brand with good welfare and ethical standards, according to research carried out by the Atomik market research company.

“The RSPCA Assured mark makes it easy for your customers to recognise products from farm animals that had a better life, so that they can feel confident and good about their choice,” he told delegates.