Own label has outperformed brands this year in a wealth of categories. eggs is not one of them. While own-label lines continue to dominate value share, they’ve seen volumes fall 2.9%. At the same time, branded units are up 13.6% despite being 26.6% pricier on average. They’re now worth an extra £120.4m.
The reason for this diverging performance is the sector’s well-documented supply crisis. Shortages began in autumn 2022 as egg producers left the industry or significantly pulled back on production due to soaring costs and shrinking margins.
Improved returns did eventually come, via a spate of price hikes at the tail-end of 2022 and into 2023 – which helped drive an overall price increase of 26.4% per unit across the category.
But egg production continued to fall, hitting its lowest level in nine years [NFU], resulting in gaps on shelves continuing well into the summer.
What are the leading UK egg brands?
This situation created significant opportunities for brands to backfill sparse and previously own label-dominated fixtures, says Rebekkah Minchin-Hepburn, sales & marketing director of Lakes Free Range Eggs. It enjoyed an 82.6% increase in volumes this year, having won expanded distribution with the likes of Sainsbury’s.
It’s for the same reason Italian brand Atlante racked up sales of £5.4m from a standing start, its eggs having shown up at Sainsbury’s stores across the country.
Minchin-Hepburn says Sainsbury’s controversial listing of Atlante “came from a place of putting the customer first – preferring to have this egg on sale than a shopper walk away disappointed”.
UK supermarket egg shortages
Shortages also benefited UK suppliers, of course. Stonegate Farmers, for instance, has seen its brands, such as Clarence Court, make “a real mark with consumers, and we have seen growth on growth”, says commercial manager Lewis Mercieca.
With St Ewe seeing volumes surge 98.5%, the year’s shortages “gave companies like us a national presence in retailers where we hadn’t necessarily had one in the past”, says MD Martin Glinski. The brand even saw its quail and duck eggs grow distribution, he adds.
After the turmoil of the past 18 months, suppliers now insist the supply crisis is over and the category is better for it. It resulted in “a closer alignment between retailer, their suppliers and their farmers”, claims Minchin-Hepburn. Now, she adds, the future looks “much brighter”.
Top Launch 2023
Rich Yolk | St Ewe Free Range
Cornish producer St Ewe’s Rich Yolk range features eggs “praised by acclaimed chefs and consumers alike for their flavour and colour”. The lineup arrived in June as a box of six in standard (rsp: £2.50) and Opulent (rsp: 3.50) – the latter variant promising an even richer hue of yolk. Both come in a non-traditional carton that took more than 10 years to develop. It boasts an enhanced structural integrity “to safeguard the eggs from packing centre to consumers’ kitchens”.
Face off: Top Products Survey 2023 pits brands vs own-label
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Eggs 2023: Brands make most of egg supply issues