Tesco’s decision to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025 will come as a major blow to egg producers says the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
While accepting that Tesco’s decision reflects changes in customer demand, the union is concerned about the impact on its poultry farming members, especially those who have recently invested in enriched colonies for laying hens.
“Producers have invested to ensure eggs produced in Northern Ireland are fully compliant with EU regulations,” said UFU poultry chairman, Tom Forgrave, adding that such investments had brought better welfare standards for hens, while complying with, or even exceeding, some of the highest welfare standards in the world.
“We need to ensure this (Tesco’s decision) does not have a negative impact. As Tesco begins its transition to cage free eggs it is essential it communicates effectively with suppliers through what are going to be big changes for the industry.”
Mr Forgrave also commented on the union’s “understanding” that Tesco will move to alternative sourcing methods, such as barn production, free range and organic.
“If it is barn production, then we need an assurance that we will not see an exit from that system a few years down the line, again after significant investment by producers,” he said.
“We are determined that recent investment and farmers’ dedication to animal welfare are not overlooked.”