£10,000 Lion scheme charge to be reviewed

Leading egg packers have agreed to review the levy arrangements for the British Lion scheme, following producer complaints that the new system of charges is unfair.

In May, the subscribers (packers) agreed to introduce a new minimum charge for membership of the Lion scheme of £9,750 for new joiners, with existing members facing a reduced minimum charge of £5,000 for the next two years.

Above this level, participants in the scheme would pay a fee of 11p for a case of 360 eggs.

On this basis, it was calculated that any packer with less than 120,000 birds on the books would be worse off as a result of the new minimum charge.

The larger packers had argued that the minimum charge would ensure everyone was at least covering the basic costs of running the Lion scheme. It would also ensure more “buy in” and discourage smaller packers from opting in and out of the scheme according to changing customer requirements.

But members of the BEIC board, including producer representatives, pullet rearers and egg marketers, expressed concern at their June meeting that the new charge could encourage smaller packers to look elsewhere for their quality assurance, leading to fragmentation. Retailers were also concerned that the minimum charge could affect the availability of local eggs to their stores.

They suggested a new tiered approach to Lion scheme membership charges and, at a British Egg Industry Council subscribers’ meeting on 3 August, the packers agreed to look again at the charging system.

“A number of proposals for calculating the Lion scheme subscription levels were discussed and will now be prepared for consideration by subscribers in order to reach a fair and equitable arrangement,” said a BEIC statement. “A final decision will be taken at the next BEIC subscribers’ meeting on 4 October.”

The BEIC would give no details on what the options might be.

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