Organic eggs are a prime example of a product failing to fetch its true worth because the organic brand itself is weak and generally misunderstood by retailers and consumers, says organic feed manufacturer Hi Peak Feeds, in Derbyshire.
It has called for a national awareness programme about organics, and organic eggs in particular.
Managing director Ian Proctor says the initiative should be funded by interested parties across the sector and believes it would pay for itself several times over by giving the end product its deserved added value.
“Funding could be administered by UK certification bodies and levied against producers, processors and retailers. Far from being viewed as a cost burden, it should be seen an opportunity to benefit from the financial rewards a stronger organic brand would generate.
“The UK market for all organic foodstuffs is over £2bn and we estimate nearing 10% of this is spent on eggs. We would recommend that at least £2m should be raised to finance the initiative as a whole, and that £250,000 should be channelled to kick-start a national awareness programme for eggs alone.
“That £0.25m may sound a lot, but it represents not much more than 0.01% of the UK spend on organic eggs. It would at least begin to address widespread misunderstanding. Most consumers, for instance, identify with free-range, yet miss the point that it is intrinsic to organic production.
“The additional welfare benefits of organic systems are not fully appreciated. I suspect the less intensive production demands for organic layers compared with conventional is a point often missed by the wider public, as is the more attuned husbandry, which better reflects natural instincts and behavioural patterns. The greatest appeal of organic eggs simply gets too little recognition.
“Indeed, some organic purchases are driven by the better-known food brands under which they are sold. A sustained campaign aimed at achieving a better understanding about principles, practices and benefits would greatly boost the organic egg market,” he commented.
Mr Proctor went on to say organics could only reach its potential when it was more readily accepted as a mainstream food. Many, he added, still saw it as an indulgence often grossly exaggerating its cost without fully evaluating its benefits.