EPIC 09: Happy Egg Company has 6% of free range market

Establishing national egg brands like The Happy Egg Company may have a role in moving the UK egg market forward and increasing consumption.

Noble Foods chief executive officer Peter Thornton told delegates at the recent Egg and Poultry Industry Conference that he believes there is an opportunity to increase consumption further. However, delivering growth in a staple catering product will take time.

“The Lion mark has done an excellent job and the industry has spent a total of £28m in the last decade on advertising and marketing. That’s more than that spent on either Heinz Baked Beans and Kleenex tissues.”

Consumers trust the Lion brand and household penetration of eggs is excellent at 91%, which is higher than toilet paper. “Average consumption in the UK is 178/person a year and just think of the benefits to producers of increasing this to the European average or even a more modest increase in passing the 200 barrier.”

However, one factor holding sales back is that it is often difficult to find the fixture in stores. “How often do you see it obliterated with hardly any stock left?

“Why not put eggs in the fresh produce area where there is higher traffic. Where eggs are positioned in a store often feels like an afterthought.

“Wine, cheese and other areas look much better and this is what we should aspire to. Consumers want change too, describing it as bland and unexciting.”

He believes retailers could create a great fixture with more colour, recipe ideas and product information.

Another way of driving sales is through branding.

“Last year, the top 10 retail brands had a turnover of £5bn. Consumers love brands as it helps them in making their product choice. But they are not built overnight. For example, Hovis is 120 years old while Coca cola is 106 years old.”

If you can brand water (80% branded), why not eggs, where brands account for less than 15% of total.

This prompted Noble Foods to launch the first new national egg brand for some years in January 2009. Since the launch of the Happy Egg Company brand, it has sold over seven million eggs and the full year turnover is expected to exceed £20m.

He added that the most impressive statistic was that the brand had captured 6% of the free range shell egg market and had driven 75% of the new growth seen by Noble Foods.

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