For the first time in 40 years, Tesco has restarted selling white shelled eggs, a staple that was mostly being used for McDonald’s breakfast menus.
The UK’s largest retailer will sell the white free-range eggs in order to meet the unprecedented increase of consumer demand, while simultaneously supporting suppliers and avoiding waste.
Demands and sales for fresh eggs have soared in the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic – and sold out during early stockpiling – as consumers stocked up on the high-protein staple.
The confinement has led to more people taking on cooking and eating at home, which ultimately led to Tesco seeing a 30% year-to-year hike in egg demand.
Jean-Paul Michalski, Director of Noble Foods, which supplies Tesco with the eggs, stated: “Generally our white eggs are sold to a very large global restaurant chain which unfortunately had to close its doors because of the pandemic. They are also used within egg processing where the egg is broken into a liquid to be used for food manufacturers, hotel or restaurants.
“None of our standard retail customers stock white eggs so we are really grateful to Tesco for stepping in as the white eggs would have gone to waste.”
The retail price for white eggs will cost the same as the brown free-range equivalent, at from 89p for a box of six medium eggs.
White eggs started to get phased out by British consumers sometime during the 1970’s, due to the perception that the brown counterparts were considered much healthier, and were also bigger in size.
Since the 1980s, the UK industry has produced almost 100% brown shelled eggs for high street retailers. As a result there are now very few white egg-laying flocks in the UK; down to an estimated 250,000-300,000 of the 40 million egg-laying birds in the UK.
Tesco eggs buying manager Megan Kilby said: “The initial trial during the lockdown has been a success and we will now be stocking white free range eggs for the first time in more than 40 years. These eggs are used throughout the restaurant industry so shoppers can be assured of their quality”.
UK’s food supply chain has taken a severe hit due to the nationwide lockdown, as most businesses; such as those in the food industry, no longer purchased consumable goods as they were temporary shut down. This added further pressure on farmers, producers and wholesalers alike in diverting tens of thousands of tonnes of perishable food.
Britons spent £88m on fresh eggs as they stockpiled staple foods in the four weeks preceding the UK’s initial lockdown, according to data from the British Egg Industry Council. Over the four weeks leading to the week ending 22 March, an estimated 621m eggs were sold – nearly 20% more than the same time last year when 518m eggs worth £74m were sold.
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