Our proposals for the Wealden Woods free range egg farm are consistent with the nation’s need for locally produced food to help reinforce our food security and to support the rural economy.
Demand exceeding supply
The country currently has to import eggs as demand for UK free range eggs exceeds supply.
The latest UK egg industry data suggests that UK egg consumption increased by 260 million eggs each year between 2006 and 2017, a rise of more than 3 billion eggs.
Sales of free range are also reported to have risen sharply and now represent 67% of all retail egg sales. The UK egg industry was worth more than £1 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and demand continues to rise.
Information published by the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) in May 2020 has identified a shortage of British free range eggs. Sainsbury’s has had to recently drop its 100% UK free range egg sourcing policy due to insufficient supplies, announcing it could only fulfil 45-55% of its requirements for free range eggs, and instead is now stocking imported barn produced eggs.
In a recent letter Sainsbury’s said:
“We cannot continue to fail to meet our customer need for eggs, so unfortunately we will need to look to source imported volumes to makeup the shortfall, until we can identify additional UK supply.”
“We will obviously ensure that these arrangements are as flexible as possible to enable us to switch back to fully UK only shell egg and hopefully soon be able to fulfil our public commitment to be 100% free range.”
Changes to production
Caged egg production is being phased out in the UK and all major retailers have committed to moving away from caged eggs by 2025. This will require the industry to switch its significant caged egg production to free range in order to avoid exacerbating the existing deficit in UK egg supply.
Contributing to the rural economy
Fridays is an important local employer and contributor to Kent’s rural economy. By being a major supplier to the country’s major supermarket chains and meeting the increasing demand for free range eggs we are able to employ 300 people locally.
A new free range egg farm at Wealden Woods would enable us to increase our egg production capabilities by 60 million eggs a year, and retain our position within a highly competitive market. This will help safeguard existing rural jobs as well as create new ones.
Fridays is one of the largest consumers of wheat feed in the South East, and we also support many businesses through our supply chain.