Value sales of free-range eggs have drawn level with those for intensively produced eggs for the first time, new figures show.
Free-range eggs command a 44% share of the £508m-a-year retail egg market [TNS 52 w/e August 15, 2005], on a par with eggs laid by caged hens.
Free-range egg sales rose 11% in the past year, while those for eggs from caged hens fell 2%.
Value sales of barn eggs and organic eggs also rose, by 1% and 5% respectively. Each now commands a 6% share of the overall market by value.
However, growth in the latter categories over the 12 weeks to August 15 has been more marked - 19% for barn eggs and 7% for organics. Over the same
period, sales of intensive eggs dipped by 6%, while free-range sales were up 8%.
Sales of eggs from caged hens have taken a hit following the decision by leading retailers to remove them from their standard ranges and place them in their budget lines. Instead, stores are selling barn eggs as the cheapest standard option.
However, in volume terms, eggs from caged hens still represent 58% of the market, with free range representing 34%.
John Widdowson, vice chairman of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, said it was largely thanks to the major retailers that free-range egg sales were growing. He added: “It’s predicted that volume sales of free-range eggs will be in balance with those of intensively produced eggs by 2010.”
An RSPCA spokesman said the trend “shows that more and more consumers want to buy eggs produced under higher welfare standards”.
Under EU law, conventional cages will be outlawed from 2012, although this directive will be reviewed next year.
Richard Clarke