The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) is launching a campaign to show consumers that hens naturally lay a range of sizes and to ask them to align their shopping habits.
About 13billion eggs are eaten in Britain every year and BFREPA says shoppers prefer to buy large or very large eggs rather than medium or mixed weight boxes.
The resulting supply imbalance is exacerbated in years such as 2018 when hot weather leads to hens eating less food, leaving them laying eggs which are graded as medium.
James Baxter, a free range egg farmer and chairman of BFREPA, says a change in buying habits would be better for hens and farmers.
“Hens naturally lay smaller eggs when they are younger and the size increases as birds get bigger,” he said.
“Every day half the eggs laid by British free range hens are classed as large or very large, which means that half are medium or small.
“But consumer preference means medium eggs – which are just as nutritious and tasty – are worth less at the farm gate and more will be sent for processing rather than sold as a fresh shell egg.
“We would love to see more consumers buying medium or mixed weight boxes of eggs which contain medium and large eggs. It supports what hens lay naturally.”
BFREPA’s campaign began with the launch of a video featuring free range egg farmer Susie Macmillan and her 18,000 organic free range hens.
She explains the main difference between a medium and a large egg is not the size of the yolk – where the bulk of the nutritional value is contained – but simply a greater quantity of white.
More than 30,000 people watched the video on Facebook in the first 72 hours with dozens pledging to make the change to medium or mixed weight boxes.
BFREPA plans to ramp up the campaign throughout the winter, including the run up to Christmas where the number of eggs bought and consumed spikes.