EGGSELL and Elliot Eggs’ Tom Elliott has said he expects white eggs to become a significant part of the UK’s market as many farmers increasingly consider them a higher welfare, better-performing flocks.

Retailers are also keen to increase their mix of white eggs, which can help reduce carbon emissions through more efficient feed conversion.

See also: Free Range Egg Production Manager – Elliott Eggs Ltd

For Mr Elliott, learning from farms in Europe and conversations with customers led to a producer placing the first flock of white birds—Dekalb White from Joice and Hill.

“By July this year, we will have six flocks in production, and we are already predicting that white egg production will represent 50% of our free-range production by the end of 2025,” he said.

“Looking back to when the national flock was 44 million birds, and the shelves were full, retailers had no need to look beyond brown eggs. When we started in 2023, the white eggs were difficult to sell.

‘Customers keep coming back’

“Now, we find that once people have tried the white eggs, they keep coming back, something one of our partners, Lidl, has also seen.”

It’s a sentiment that head of buying at Lidl GB, Joshua Villis, shares. “After a successful trial of white eggs in selected stores, we’re fully behind this product and actively seeking new partners while offering financial incentives to existing farmers to expand production capabilities.”

Mr Elliott is keen to ensure that the momentum he sees gathering pace in white egg production continues.

‘Strong messages’

“I believe it’s important that the strong messages about white eggs are given as much exposure as possible.

“There are several gains for producers and packers that go beyond the financial benefits of high egg numbers and longer cycles.

“Selling to major retailers, carbon footprinting is quite rightly an important area of compliance.

“In this regard, white birds have a demonstrably lighter touch on the environment.

“Similarly, in terms of welfare, there is virtually no pecking and no smothering.

Management

“So, there is no doubting the performance and management advantages that white birds give over brown birds–but I believe that the benefits of white eggs go beyond egg numbers and longer cycles.

“One factor that is less recognised is the significant reduction in human mental health challenges that result from the ease of management of white birds.

“The fact that the white birds are easier to manage makes for better mental health amongst employees and better staff morale, and with staff hard to come by, retention is very important.

Fewer floor eggs

“For example, picking up floor eggs is hard and unpleasant work, and white breeds such as DKW are generally recognised as having very few floor eggs.

“To put it simply if you have a white bird that solves all these issues, and the eggs are just as good as brown eggs – everyone is better off.

“As cycles extend even further, as a long-term objective, the possibility of white birds enabling one turnaround every other year, at the same time of year, would be great for the many producers who are also arable farmers.”