NFU reports January's chick placings were 45% down on a year ago; no surplus eggs around Waitrose takes high ground with no battery hen message Waitrose has moved to emphasise its moral high ground in the egg market with a new TV advertising campaign that broke this week. The key message is that it is the only major supermarket that no longer sells eggs laid by battery hens. In key with its approach of highlighting products and producers, the ad stars Columbian Blacktail hens roaming free on their farm in Saltash, Cornwall. The film culminates in a shot of a hen standing proudly on a fence post as the Jenny Seagrove voiceover comes in saying: "One major supermarket no longer sells any fresh eggs that were laid by battery hens kept in cages", followed by the caption Free Range Eggs, £1.05/six'. Mark Price, selling and marketing director at Waitrose, said: "Once more the quality of our products speaks for itself. "This time the hens themselves are the stars as we drop in on their daily routine on the farm. "As viewers will see, they have room to roam." The campaign is supported by a press ad which shows four hens wandering around freely in a field with one word positioned beside each bird creating the phrase Free...range... fresh... eggs'. Waitrose also claims to be unique in supplying Soil Association approved eggs. Meanwhile the NFU reports that January's chick placings showed a 45% decrease on the January 2001 figure. Across the country there were reports of a firmer market than for some time last week, with trade reasonable and helped by half term. English eggs seemed in short supply on the wholesale market with no surplus. Prices were being held back by cheap eggs from Ireland. l The University of Manchester's Farm Business Unit is launching an economic survey of egg production on farms in England this month. The aim is to assess the impact of new regulations and provide better estimates of national and regional gross and net margins. {{CANNED GOODS }}