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Fresh drive to use Lion Quality eggs

By Rod Addy , 03-Sep-2007

Lion egg product producers are pressing more manufacturers to use British-sourced eggs to combat rising levels of egg products imported into the UK and are launching a more rigorous code of practice.

More than 1,000t of egg products per week are now imported into the UK. According to the British Egg Products Association (BEPA), more than 80% of consumers felt that using British eggs in manufactured products was important. But almost a third of products on supermarket shelves contain imported eggs.

BEPA research focused on cakes, quiche and mayonnaise, significant products containing eggs, showed more than two thirds of consumers felt that the eggs’ country of origin was important. In addition, 41.6% of consumers said they would be less likely to buy products if they the knew the eggs used in them were imported.

Further investigation by BEPA showed a lack of awareness of the Lion Quality mark, which guarantees the quality and British origin of eggs, among manufacturers. “Some were getting Lion mark eggs for their products and didn’t know it,” said Kevin Coles of the British Egg Information Service. “Some thought they would be markedly more expensive than other eggs, which is not the case.”

BEPA is in talks with manufacturers in different food categories at the moment to persude them to adopt the Lion mark to indicate that their products contain UK-sourced eggs. “We want to drive take-up of Lion quality egg products,” said Coles.

The Lion Quality code of practice, which is being launched this month, will include more stringent requirements for levels of salmonella testing in chicken flocks.

The egg market is currently in strong growth, with the latest figures from Taylor Nelson Sofres for the 52 weeks to July 31 showing value sales up 4.4%. The increase is the highest for almost 20 years. It is a sign that the market is finally bouncing back from the hammering it took after former health minister Edwina Currie closely linked salmonella with egg production in 1988.

BEPA estimates that egg products make up almost a third of all egg consumption in the UK, the equivalent of £100M in sales. Eggs marked with the Lion mark constitute about 60% of that market, or £60M. A total of 90% of egg products are sold in the baking industry or the wider food manufacturing arena.