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18-08-2014

Quality awards for Scottish egg producers

Quality awards for scottsch egg producers

Leading personalities in the Scottish egg industry gathered in Perth for the presentation of awards in the 26th Scottish Egg Quality Awards Scheme organised by BOCM PAULS and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).  The aim of the awards scheme is to is to raise awareness, among producers, of factors affecting egg quality, as well as helping entrants promote quality Scottish produce.

John Cessford, BOCM PAULS Marketing Manager said: “We are proud to have supported this competition, now in its 26th year and to acknowledge the achievements of the Scottish egg industry.  For the first time we will be presenting three awards, with “Organic” added to the Producer and Producer/Retailer categories.”

Each entrant sends 60 large eggs to SRUC on a set day.  Scientists from the Avian Science Research Centre then judge the competition.  The eggs are marked on quality including: shell faults, shell colour, albumen height, yolk colour, shell thickness and inclusions (blood or meat spots).  Those with the highest overall scores receive Commended, Highly Commended or Outstanding certificates for egg quality – with an overall winner in each category.

Judge Nick Sparks, Head of Animal & Veterinary Sciences at SRUC said: “It’s great to interact with producers at this kind of event, being able to offer advice and take away information to inform future research.  As always most eggs scored well and the marks were very close.”   Iain Campbell, Poultry Specialist at BOCM PAULS, welcomed guests to the awards ceremony.  He said entries were up 50% on last year, with a wider range of producers represented.

Roy Kerr from  the Scottish Egg Producers Retailers Association (SEPRA) said: “The awards are an important focal point for the Scottish egg industry.  Scottish consumers have close connections with the egg producers, making the desire to supply them with quality produce even greater”.  He also highlighted a 2% increase in production and demand for organic eggs in Scotland.   

John Retson, former chairman of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) and owner of JSR Services (Blairgowrie) Ltd said: "The awards are important for the winners, they are up every morning looking after their birds.” This sentiment was backed up by Lorna Naismith of JA Brownlie, Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, overall winners in the silver quaich (cup) Producer section who said: “For my family and me it is a pat on the back for all our hard work.   My birds were 64 weeks so I am very pleased to have such quality eggs at that age.”

Overall winner of the Producer/Retailer category was Highland Feather Fresh, Inverness with  Dick McGillvary collecting the trophy.  He said:  “I’m delighted to come away with this prize, it’s great to receive recognition for all the hard work we put in.”  This was the second time Highland Feather Fresh had entered eggs from their 97,000 free-range bird unit.  Gillian Fowlie of JH Fowlie, Springhill Farm, Peterhead, who was the overall winner in the Organic category said: “I was surprised to have won an award as this was our first time entering the competition. Gillian has 6,000 organic birds as part of her family’s mixed farm.  

Robert Chapman of Farmlay Eggs, Fraserburgh, who received a Commendation in the Producer/Retailer category said: “We have built our business on producing a quality product and this award backs it up.” But it wasn’t just his own success Robert was celebrating: “This year two of my contract producers received awards,” he added.

Most of the winners were family businesses and the awards are particularly important for their local customers.  David Marshall from Marshall Eggs, Blairmore, Dunoon,  who received Highly Commended in the Producer/Retailer category said: “The whole family will be really pleased to get this award. “It’s great to know your are managing your birds well,”  he said.   Paul Arthur of PS Poultry, Lockerbie who received  “outstanding” in the Producer/Retailer category, for the second year running, remarked : “It’s nice to receive appreciation – what you put into your hens, you get out in eggs.”

Kitty Campbell Free Range Eggs, Peebles,  received a Highly Commended in the Producer/Retailer category.  Karen and Amy Campbell pointed out the positive message the awards sent to customers: “people want to know they are spending their money on top quality Scottish eggs.”

Many of the producer/retailers use the awards to generate publicity.  Corrie Mains Free Range Eggs, Mauchline, Ayrshire" achieved “outstanding”, on their 5th award.  Jim Smiley said: “When we won for the first time it gave us a confidence boost - helping to sell the product.  We actually advertise our win on the egg pack.” Ewen McCaskill from Argyll Eggs, Oban, Argyll, were Commended and Irene Robb from Chalmerston Farm Eggs, Mauchline, Ayrshire,  received Highly Commended.  They said: "We use the award to help us get new business, talking about it in the local press and with customers." JS Gerrish, Elrig Farm, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, received highly commended in the Producer category, on their first time of entering.  Stuart Gerrish said: “The awards are a great idea to promote the egg industry and the quality of Scottish local produce.” Milan Copic of Deveron Valley Eggs, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, who received commended said: “We have had a lovely evening and feel welcomed into the egg producer ‘club’.”

Lohmann GB and Hy-Line jointly sponsored the pre-dinner champagne reception with Kenny Shaw of Lohmann GB commenting: “It’s an excellent opportunity for the Scottish Egg Industry to get together and great to be a part of it.  This awards scheme provides an incentive to producers to strive for quality in order to keep customers and gain new business.  It has a lot going for it”.