The controversial Atkins diet has helped add ‘oomph’ to egg sales this year.

The first seven months of 2003 have seen sales of Lion eggs grow by 9% according to TNS data, the first sustained rises for many years according to the British Egg Industry Council.

The council said the rise reflected the growing interest in eggs which has been fuelled by ongoing television advertising as well as changes in eating habits, particularly the recent re-birth of the Atkins diet.

The TNS Superpanel data shows the total market for eggs had risen by almost 4%, compared to an equivalent rise of 1% in 2002.

However the big success story, according to the BEIC, is the rise of Lion Quality eggs, which have continued to see huge growth rates with a further increase of 9% to date, building on rises of 4% and 3% in 2002 and 2001 respectively.

Andrew Parker, chairman of the BEIC, said: “Normally hot weather sparks a slowdown. This has not been the case this year, and the growing respect for eggs as a food and the ‘Atkins’ effect have really helped the market.”