BRITISH Lion egg farmers will move as one to labelling eggs as barn following the end of the 16-week marketing derogation for housed free-range hens in East Anglia.
Pallets of eggs leaving farms from 25 January will be labelled with the number 2 in packing centres signifying barn production.
While Defra has formally applied the 16-week derogation on a regional basis, farms part of the Lion scheme have aligned to avoid supply chain challenges.
But the assurance scheme said that cascading all eggs to barn at once reduces the potential for errors and shopper confusion.
Poultry was housed in East Anglia from 12 October 2022 after a spike in cases in the region. An all-England order was introduced on 7 November with Northern Ireland following later that month and Wales declaring one on 2 December. At the time of writing, there is no housing order in Scotland.
From 1 February, shoppers can expect Point-of-Sale information explaining that hens were currently housed for their welfare.
There will also be on-pack information, with Defra allowing producers in England to add “Barn Eggs” to print-to-pack stickers – a concession granted given the profitability and disease challenges the sector is facing.
It is understood Scotland will align with England on this rule, but Wales is yet to announce its position, and Northern Ireland has said overstickering will still be required.
Lobbying is underway to create a more streamlined marketing system for free-range eggs from housed hens.
Many in the UK’s egg sector would prefer to adopt the organic regulations, which stipulate birds must spend at least half of their lives outside to be considered free-range.
In the EU, the European Commission proposed to align free-range eggs with how organic eggs are treated.
However, objections from Germany led to delays in adopting the change, with it now likely to be introduced in the second quarter of the year.