Eggs imported for use in UK foods travelled more than 3.5 million miles last year, the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back more than eight times, according to the British Egg Products Association.
In 2008, more than 50,000t of egg products, in varying forms, were imported from mainland Europe into the UK for use in the production of ready meals and egg sandwiches, among other items.
BEPA believes the release of the new figures will surprise many consumers who assume that the eggs used in products such as quiches and egg sandwiches are produced in the UK.
Therefore, the Association has called for clearer labelling of products so that consumers can see exactly how far the ingredients have travelled.
Clive Frampton, chairman of BEPA, said: “It is surprising that eggs can be responsible for so many food miles, especially when the UK has some of the highest standards of egg production in the world through the British Lion Scheme.
“We would urge manufacturers and retailers to look again at their sourcing policy to see whether they can use locally produced egg products, produced to the exacting standards of the British Lion code.”
The industry is also calling on food manufacturers to be clear about provenance, as Mr Frampton explained: “The Lion mark on shell eggs is widely recognised and available in all major retailers, but eggs used in processed products are not as obvious.
“Consumers generally expect British ingredients to be used in British products and this can easily be achieved by local sourcing,” he said.