Over three-quarters willing to pay more for free-range eggs

Seventy-eight per cent of UK shoppers who buy free-range eggs said they would be prepared to pay a premium for them, according to a OnePoll survey. 

Research showed that even Brits who usually buy value eggs think that free-range eggs should be more expensive than those produced by birds that don’t go outside.

The news comes after a series of UK supermarkets have announced a commitment to sourcing eggs from uncaged birds.

Farmers of free-range eggs have said that the change in sourcing policy must not lead to their product being downgraded to a budget option.

“Free-range eggs have traditionally enjoyed a small premium, which reflects the increased cost of running a unit that permits the birds space to roam outside,” said Myles Thomas, Love Free Range Eggs campaign ambassador and farmer.

“Hens in enriched colony or barn systems do not go outside and their eggs are cheaper to produce,” he continued. “To take that premium away would be disastrous for free-range egg producers. The results of this survey show that the public agrees with us and it is a clear indication that retailers need to offer British eggs at a variety of price points.

Thomas believes eggs should be available to everyone, no matter the size of their budget. He encouraged retailers to engage in conversation with the laying hen industry to discuss the future of sourcing policies.

“We need the retailers to tell the industry how they plan to fill the gap that’s going to be left by phasing out sourcing from colony production. Whatever happens, consumers must not be misled. Putting a ‘cage-free’ label on a dozen eggs is not enough – consumers will assume that means the product is free-range. Shoppers need to be able to quickly distinguish between production systems, and our products must be clearly marked as British-produced free-range eggs.”

Sixty-four per cent of participants surveyed said that eggs should be available at a range of price points. Although one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds said that they did not buy free-range eggs, 62% said they would be willing to pay more for free-range.

Meanwhile, among shoppers aged 55 years and over, of which 87% already buy free-range, 69% said they would be willing to pay more.

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