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Stackyard News Sep 07

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Demand Encourages More Woodland Free Range Egg Producers

Demand for Sainsbury’s exclusive Woodland Eggs range has led to more producers supplying the brand. During the past year Woodland Eggs has more than doubled in sales volume and, starting in September, it will be rolled out across Sainsbury’s stores.

woodland hens

Nearly two million hens on farms across Britain are now producing eggs for Sainsbury’s customers. Producers benefit from a 2p per dozen premium on their egg price, representing a £1million investment by Sainsbury’s to compensate for the tree maintenance and additional welfare standards.

Producers are also members of the Federation of Woodland Egg Producers, which aims to forge closer links with Sainsbury’s. The scheme has become so successful that there is now a waiting list to become a Woodland Egg producer in the autumn 2007 tree-planting season.

The Woodland Eggs range was launched in 2004 following feedback from free-range egg producer and Noble Foods producer, John Widdowson, on the behavioural benefits of a tree planted environment for hens. Chickens are descended from jungle fowl and are therefore instinctively much happier spending time in the shade of trees and hedges, dust bathing and foraging as their ancestors did.

woodland eggs

Woodland Eggs are produced from hens that range in a woodland environment. The scheme has so far involved the planting of more than 300,000 trees on 134 woodland farms.

All farms are planted with a mixture of fast growing and slower native trees that are indigenous to the local area. The trees are planted close to the house to encourage the hens outside to range.

Eggs from the Woodland scheme are all sold through Sainsbury’s within five free range lines and five Sainsbury’s SO organic lines.

The Woodland Trust, the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, has also benefited from Woodland Eggs, to the tune of a 1p donation from selected packs. To date the charity has received £150,000 to help fund tree planting projects throughout the country, a crucial step as the UK is currently one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with just 12 per cent woodland cover.

Michael Hodgson, head of Sainsbury’s Dairy says: “We are committed to animal welfare and the biodiversity of the UK and we’re thrilled to be expanding Woodland Free Range and Organic eggs across stores in September. Making a positive difference and being a responsible business is at the heart of everything we do.”

Michael Kent, chief executive of Noble Foods comments: “I am delighted that the Woodland Egg brand is being rolled out across Sainsbury’s stores. It is a true endorsement of British agriculture, the uniqueness of the brand and the working partnership that Sainsbury's and Noble have with British Farmers and the Woodland Trust."

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