Countdown has just launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers, to increase the supply available for Countdown stores. The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.
Countdown sells up to four million eggs per week. Presently around 40% of Countdown egg sales are free range or barn eggs and this is growing, but varies significantly from store to store and region to region.
James Walker, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, says the new programme gives farmers certainty. If egg farmers invest in growing free range or barn egg supply to meet future demand, with Countdown as a partner they will not have to worry about finding a retail channel. “We have been steadily increasing the availability of free range and barn eggs, as customer demand has increased. We expect the numbers of Kiwis who want to choose free range and barn eggs will continue to increase over time. Given the relatively low current levels of free range and barn production, we want to work with farmers to ensure we have supply into the future.”
To join the programme, farmers will share investment plans with Countdown and information about animal welfare. Should the right criteria be met, Countdown and farmers can then enter into a partnership agreement to take future supply.
Long-time Countdown Free Range and Barn egg farmers, Otaika Valley, Wholesome NZ and Frenz are all joining the programme. These three companies will invest a total of $25 – 40 million in increasing free range and barn capacity over the next three years.
Countdown has written to all commercial free range and barn producers in New Zealand to invite them to be part of the programme. Feedback from the farmers who have already signed up has been extremely positive.
However, Walker said it is also critical that Countdown continues to offer its’ customers choice and affordable options. “Countdown wants to give our customers a range of eggs so they can choose what style suits their budget or preference. We know from our customers that having affordable eggs available is very important, and we will continue to give them a choice.”
Rob Darby, Director, FRENZ commented: “Countdown and FRENZ history goes back three decades when Countdown gave FRENZ the opportunity to introduce free range and organic eggs to New Zealanders for the first time. The producer programme provides structure and confidence for both parties and assures Countdown that future growth in the market is planned and provided for.”
William Sandle, General Manager, Otaika Valley Free Range Eggs said: “Countdown’s scale affords us significant growth opportunities which is exciting for our business.”