UK - The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) held its Annual General Meeting and conference this week in the wake of some sensational media reporting on the welfare of free-range hens.
Despite bad weather and traffic problems, a well-attended AGM and conference at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham on 20 November points to the vibrancy of the free-range sector in the UK.
Free-range eggs do not represent a niche sector - they hold a 44 per cent share of the market and account for 52 per cent of retail sales. BFREPA has around 400 producer members with more than nine million hens.
Following welcoming remarks by BFREPA chairman, Roger Gent, and BOCM Pauls' Sales Director, Mike Youney and the presentation of the Free Range Awards, John Retson took over as Conference Chairman.
He introduced Robert Gooch, BFREPA's Policy Director, who outlined his activities over the last year supporting and promoting the free-range egg sector. Among the significant developments, he highlighted the launch of a new consumer web site, www.lovefreerangeeggs.co.uk and a rebranding of BFREPA.
Farmer, Mike Wilkinson, explained his experiences with free-range egg production and particularly the advantages he sees in multi-tier housing for the birds.
Dr Laura Dixon from Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC) reviewed a number of trials she and her colleagues have carried out into the management of laying hens should beak-trimming be banned in future, as proposed.
Finally, Andrew Jorêt, Chairman of the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) and Group Technical Director of Noble Foods, offered his insights into the egg markets in the UK and the EU.
The conference was hosted and organised by BOCM Pauls and sponsored by Elanco, Feedex, MSD Animal Health, ISA and Friday's.