By the end of this year, consumers from Ireland to Italy could be faced with on-egg advertising, according to a company which has already successfully launched the concept in the US.

It relies on technology that etches the message into the shell with a laser beam, and is already used to promote TV programmes on CBS.

"Eggshell advertising means another income source for packers and retailers at a time when the egg industry is hard-pressed to maintain their small margins," said Stijn De Preter, European manager for EggFusion, the US company behind the idea.

It has had the green light from the EC in Brussels and is in talks with a number of UK multiples, with the aim of setting up integrated egg advertising through packers and retail outlets. De Preter added that he is keeping actual names to himself for the moment. But the British Egg Information Service said it was sceptical because there was little room on shells for such information.