Going to work on an egg - and how BIG & Fresh and BIG and BRITISH eggs give the supermarkets higher prices and BIG, BIG margins
One of the eternal mysteries was explained yesterday. Its unravelling was simply undertaken by placing a recently purchased hens egg ( an Extra Large Organic from Lord Tesco's corner shop) on a kitchen scale. It weighed approximately 3 ounces or 7o grams.
The puzzle ... and it has been one for a very long time , was how hens eggs are graded, small/medium/large /extra large, was it by size (length/diameter/width or a combination therof) or simply by weight ?
A wiser head than evidently exists in Patel Towers technical team directed us to UK Eggs which wins the prize for the best web site ever.
It is simple, clear, easily navigated, tells you everything you need to (and probably will ever want to ) know about eggs and their production in the UK. It does exatly what it says on the ...er ...egg.
Egg Grading, Size and Quality
UK eggs used to come in a range of 7 sizes. There are now 4
Small 53 gms and under/ Medium 53 - 63g / Large 63 - 73g and Extra large is anything over 73 grams. Egg shell colour is a result of breed and diet and has no nutritional significance.
UK Egg production
There are three types of egg production 1) Laying Cage System 63% of UK production 2) Barn System 6% of UK production 3) Free Range and Organic Systems 32% of UK production , These eggs are under EU regulation , Grade A - naturally clean, fresh eggs, internally perfect with shells intact and the air sac not exceeding 6mm in depth. The yolk must not move away from the centre of the egg on rotation. Grade A eggs are sold as shell eggs. Grade B eggs are broken out , not sold retail , pasteurised and used in processed foods, cakes etc.,
It takes 4 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
An EU-wide ban on the use of conventional battery cages for egg laying hens will be applied from 1 January 2012.
UK Egg consumption
In the UK we eat 10.5 billion eggs a year that's 29Million per day and 172 per head per year or about one every other day. Only about half of those egs are sold retail the rest appear in processed food ,
The total retail market is approximately £675 milion of which £410 million goes to the producer. Evidently these figures are out of date as egg prices have risen by some 30-40% in the last 12 months.
The major supermarkets sell 85% of those eggs which are produced by 29 million birds who each lay about 312 eggs a year. There are 32,525 registered laying flocks nearly all under 5,000 birds and just over 300 with 20,000 layingbirds... and the resultuing eggs pass through 1,409 packing stations. Mysteriously we import 2.5 Billion whole eggs and export a miserable 202 million.
The Daily Mail June 2nd says "The price of a dozen medium free range eggs has risen by 83p or 47.4 % since May last year to £2.58. "
UK Eggs say, "Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods money can buy." A medium egg A has an energy value of 78 kilocalories (324 kilojoules) . An egg a day provides around 3% of the average energy requirement of an adult man; 4% for an adult woman. They contain neither sugar or Vitamin C.
Eggs are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals content and relatively low saturated fat content. On the evaluation scale most commonly used for assessing protein, egg is at the highest point, 100, and is used as the reference standard against which all other foods are assessed.
A zillion sites tell you about egg nutrition try this American site The Egg Nutrition centre
In the US , there doesn't appear to be any standards on size or quality, you just go to the store and buy eggs.
The most expensive egg ever sold was the Faberge “Winter Egg” presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna in 1913. One of only 66 eggs that Faberge produced, and designed by Alma Pihl .In 1949, it was sold for US$4,760 and again in 1994 for US$5.6 million to an anonymous buyer.
On April 19 2002, Christies sold it again for US$9.58 million
A stroll round Tesco/ASDA/Lidl looking at egg prices/packs
LOlla Palooza and Tonu Fabulosos were handed some petty cash and asked to buy some eggs with some intriguig results
Free Range Large 12 pack Tesco £2.92 ASDA £ 2.92
Free Range Medium 6 pack Tesco £1.49 ASDA £ 1.52 Lidl £1.27 (16% cheaper)
The cheapest eggs were Caged packed 15's in Tesco 10p each, ASDA packed in trays of 30 at 9.9p and Lidl packed in 10's 9.7p . probably the best offer was ASDA special offer packed in 15's guaranteed average weight of 54 gms = medium for £1.50 = 10 p each = 19.2 p per 100gms.
Most expensive were Lord Patel's Tesco organic Extra Large 6 for £2.39 =39.9 p each. at 73 gms each = 54 p per 100 gms 280% higher than the lowest cost caged eggs.
Of course ASDA and Tesco confuse the customer even more, Tesco offer BIG and Fresh eggs and ASDA offer BIG and British eggs, which are clever ways of packaging mixed caged eggs . For example :
Tesco 10 pack BIG is £2.10 and ASDA BIG and British is £2.08 , these packs average out as medium price eggs (55gms) so the cost is 37p per 100grams - damn near double the cheapest caged eggs - for effectively the same product.