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Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today


Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today

Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off

17 August, 2016: Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.

James Walker, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, says the programme gives farmers certainty. If egg farmers invest in growing free range or barn egg supply to meet future demand, with Countdown as a partner they will not have to worry about finding a retail channel.

“We have been steadily increasing the availability of free range and barn eggs, as customer demand has increased. We expect the numbers of Kiwis who want to choose free range and barn eggs will continue to increase over time. Given the relatively low current levels of free range and barn production, we want to work with farmers to ensure we have supply into the future.”

To join the programme, farmers will share investment plans with Countdown and information about animal welfare. Should the right criteria be met, Countdown and farmers can then enter into a partnership agreement to take future supply.

Long-time Countdown Free Range and Barn egg farmers, Otaika Valley, Wholesome NZ and Frenz are all joining the programme (see their comments below). These three companies will invest a total of $25 – 40 million in increasing free range and barn capacity over the next three years.

Countdown has written to all commercial free range and barn producers in New Zealand to invite them to be part of the programme.

Feedback from the farmers who have already signed up has been extremely positive.

However, Mr Walker said it is also critical that Countdown continues to offer its’ customers choice and affordable options. Research conducted by Colmar Brunton shows that 69 per cent of New Zealanders agree that supermarkets should provide customers with a choice of eggs (free range, barn, caged, colony caged).

“Countdown wants to give our customers a range of eggs so they can choose what style suits their budget or preference. We know from our customers that having affordable eggs available is very important, and we will continue to give them a choice.”

Case studies about Countdown’s Free Range and Barn Egg producers can be found here:

FRENZ

Otaika Valley
Comments from the inaugural members of the Countdown Egg Producer Programme for free range and barn.
Rob Darby, Director, FRENZ:

“Countdown and FRENZ history goes back three decades when Countdown gave FRENZ the opportunity to introduce free range and organic eggs to New Zealanders for the first time.

“The producer programme provides structure and confidence for both parties and assures Countdown that future growth in the market is planned and provided for.”
William Sandle, General Manager, Otaika Valley Free Range Eggs:

“Countdown’s scale affords us significant growth opportunities which is exciting for our business.

“The programme can hopefully give structure to the transition where the retailer and farmers are working together to meet future consumer requirements.”
Ian Higgins, Chairman/CEO Wholesome NZ and Independent Farmer:

“It’s difficult for farmers to spend millions of dollars converting farms to free range, and many can’t until they have commercial commitments that ensure the eggs they produce will be purchased.

“Higgins and Wholesome are committed to grow the Free Range and Barn sectors with Countdown.”

ENDS

Facts about the industry

• New Zealand has around 146 egg farms. Barn eggs account for five per cent of eggs produced, and free range are at 18 per cent*

• Countdown sells up to 340,000 dozen eggs per week (that’s four million eggs per week)

• There are 13 free range egg producers stocked on Countdown shelves


• Presently around 40 per cent of Countdown egg sales are free range or barn eggs and this is growing. This varies significantly store to store, region to region.

• There are already three egg farmers that have signed up to the free range and barn Egg producers programme to date


• The New Zealand egg industry has committed to phasing out conventional cage eggs by 2022, under the Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of 2012 developed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. In place of caged eggs, we are told that the egg industry is investing in new colony cages. The Government regulates the industry, and MPI monitors compliance with this code.


• Challenges to producing free range and barn eggs include variations in district and regional council plans and processes, the time consents take to come through and the investment required before production is available to sell.


• Countdown is just one of many egg retailers. Others include other supermarkets, specialty food shops, restaurants and cafes, bakers and wholesalers.


*Sourced from eggfarmers.org.nz


ends

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