Watercress Lane, which claims to be the UK’s largest producer of duck eggs, has launched its own quality mark to build consumer trust in duck eggs.
The Blue Duck logo will guarantee a top-quality product, produced to consistently high standards of freshness, food safety and animal welfare, said Watercress Lane manager Melandy Daniels.
“Duck eggs have more protein, minerals and vitamins than hen eggs – as well as a proper egg flavour – but the received wisdom is that they are not as hygienic or reliable,” said Ms Daniels.
“We know that this isn’t true and have introduced the Blue Duck to give consumers that guarantee.”
Since its reintroduction in 1998, the Lion quality mark for eggs had successfully repaired the damage caused by concerns over cholesterol and salmonella, said Ms Daniels.
“But this scheme only applies to chicken eggs and the duck egg market, despite clear evidence of growing interest, is still hamstrung by consumer unfamiliarity and a lack of clarity regarding traceability and quality standards.”
That perception was based on 60-year-old, post-war attitudes, she claimed, “when duck eggs fell out of fashion after hen eggs came off rationing, and large-scale egg production methods took control of the whole market”.
“Though the demand for duck eggs has plummeted since then, few people remember why they fell out of favour, and the challenge for Watercress Lane is to reintroduce them to a market unencumbered by historical prejudice.”
All eggs carrying the Blue Duck were hand candled to check the quality, then washed, dried, graded and shipped out the day after laying, she said.
To preserve the integrity of the egg shells and ensure they stayed fresher for longer, Blue Duck eggs were unbleached, to avoid stripping away the waxy coat that protects them from infection.
All 28,000 ducks at Watercress Lane’s hatcheries are managed in accordance with the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods code of conduct.