TESCO recruited four new egg packers during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic to help it meet demand, according to its agricultural manager for poultry and eggs, John Kirkpatrick.

He told a Potters Poultry virtual open day that total egg volume across the UK market was up 35% at the peak of the coronavirus crisis.

See also: Tesco expands its cage-free egg policy

“Demand far outstripped supply with our current four incumbent packers,” Mr Kirkpatrick said. “We had to add four additional egg packing businesses to our total egg pool to be able to meet with demand, and I’m delighted to say that the four businesses did an excellent job in supporting our business in a real time of need.

“Credit to our suppliers, in what has been an incredibly challenging year, they have stepped up and delivered.”

White eggs

Another major shift was the introduction of white eggs, which would normally have gone into McDonald’s supply chain.

“We decided alongside our packer, Noble Foods, to work with them to utilise that white egg to great effect, and the customer response has been really good,” Mr Kirkpatrick said.

He added that white birds had many positive traits, including keeping feather cover better, lower aggression, better persistency and performance when compared with brown layers.

And on the back of their success in stores, Tesco would continue stocking white egg. “For us, we feel there is a huge opportunity with white egg.”