PoultryWorld: Perspectives around the future of white eggs


Producers and packers can enjoy welfare and environmental gains that go beyond the financial benefits of high egg numbers and longer cycles for white eggs, according to a UK company boss.


Tom Elliott, founder and managing director of the Eggsell Marketing Cooperative, said he believes there is real momentum in white egg production.

In April, the Coop announced it was supporting its 100% free-range commitment with the introduction of white eggs across its 2,400 convenience stores. The move by the supermarket sees the introduction of Lohman LSL – known for their welfare, longer laying cycles and increased feed utilisation – added to its supply pool. Initially, 10% of its eggs will be white but the Coop wants to raise this to 30% in year 3.

“A lighter touch on the environment”

Elliott believes the strong messages about white eggs are given as much exposure as possible: “There are several gains for producers and packers that go beyond the financial benefits of high egg numbers and longer cycles. Selling to major retailers, carbon footprinting is quite rightly an important area of compliance. In this regard, white birds have a demonstrably lighter touch on the environment. Similarly, in terms of welfare, there is virtually no pecking and no smothering.”

Mental health

He continues: “One factor that is less recognised is the significant reduction in human mental health challenges that result from the ease of management of white birds. The fact that white birds are easier to manage makes for better mental health among employees, better staff morale, and with staff hard to come by, retention is very important. For example, picking up floor eggs is hard and unpleased work, and white birds are generally recognised as having very few floor eggs.”

Elliott formed the Eggsell Marketing Cooperative in 2007 with the aim of increasing returns to free-range producers with 2 other East Yorkshire egg producers. The business has grown steadily with producers from Shropshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire involved, taking the weekly volume to more than 5 million free-range eggs per week.

Consumer trials

One of the producers introduced a flock of Dekalb White Birds from Joice and Hill and Elliott believes consumers having tried the white eggs are returning to them.

Joshua Villis, head of buying at Lidl GB, said: “After a successful trial of white eggs in selected stores, we’re fully behind this product and actively seeking new partners, while offering financial incentives to existing farmers to expand production capabilities. By working closely with our suppliers, we’re able to offer shoppers a diverse range of products that meet the needs and preferences of our growing customer base, while also supporting the growth of British businesses.”

Peter Cumbers, Joice and Hill sales director, said the Dekalb White came into its own past 70 weeks, with “flat curves on numbers, egg weight and shell strength. We are seeing more and more flocks achieve 500 eggs over 100 weeks.”

Tony McdougalFreelance Journalist

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