In line with its pledge to provide only free-range eggs, the Co-op Group has launched a dedicated egg-farming group to maintain and develop strict animal welfare standards.
Since 2007 the retailer has sold only free-range own-brand eggs, and it has been using free-range eggs in its own-brand products since 2010.
The farming group covers 250,000 hens from 17 flocks from across northern England and Scotland. The group was set up with support from Noble Foods, the Co-op’s main egg supplier.
In free-range systems, hens are housed in barns and have constant daytime access to an outside range with vegetation. The Co-op plans to use the new egg farming group to provide shoppers with a more transparent supply chain and strengthen relationships with farmers.
The group will develop a bronze, silver and gold pillar scheme, which will provide increased premiums for farms demonstrating various aspects of farm business management, such as quality, welfare or environment factors.
Catherine Bennett, the Co-op’s poultry agricultural manager, said: “Openness and honesty is at the heart of what we do and the egg farming group helps improve transparency and cements our commitment to British farming.
“The egg farming group represents the Co-op’s sixth farming group within our fresh, British meat, poultry and dairy ranges. They’re proving hugely successful in providing our customers and members with greater confidence in the provenance of our food as well as benefiting the farmers involved.”
Veli Moluluo, managing director of Noble Foods, added: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with the Co-op to launch this new group. It represents a very positive step forward for consumers, suppliers and the poultry sector as a whole.”