Demand soars for eggs as Norfolk firm takes on more staff

PUBLISHED: 12:41 06 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:50 06 April 2013

A new £3m specialist egg packhouse has been opened by Anglia Free Range Eggs in Attleborough.
It takes eggs from 15 farms across Norfolk and suffolk. They've just won a contract to supply Tesco's regional stores.

A new £3m specialist egg packhouse has been opened by Anglia Free Range Eggs in Attleborough. It takes eggs from 15 farms across Norfolk and suffolk. They've just won a contract to supply Tesco's regional stores.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

A rapidly-expanding £3.5m specialist egg-packing business in central Norfolk is looking to take on more producers to meet a surge in demand from retailers.

Anglia Free Range Eggs has taken on a further dozen staff as it starts a new Saturday shift next weekend to supply the Tesco depot at Peterborough.

“We’re taking all of the own- label free-range supply for the Peterborough depot, which is really good news,” said Clair Bullen, head of sales and marketing. “We’ve recruited a Saturday shift which will be starting to cope with the additional Tesco business. We have taken on new staff for that and we’re in the process of completing their training,” she added.

Since the company started in a former vegetable packing plant in Maurice Gaymer Way, Attleborough, in 2010, it has boosted throughput and taken on more staff. It has now recruited 12 staff to work alongside the 17-strong permanent workforce – two years ago, they were just five part-timers.

Anglia Free Range, which was started by a small group of free-range producers including Harry Irwin, Peter Davison and Rand-olph Ford, will also be supplying a number of Asda’s stores across the region from June.

In May last year, it started supplying Tesco stores across eastern England, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and south Lincolnshire and will be extending its range again. “As of next week, we’re effectively doubling our share into Tesco,” said Ms Bullen.

A further extension to the factory, which will increase the storage capacity for packaging material and finished goods, was also being completed. “With all this new business we’ve run out of room,” she added.

A key part of the growth strategy was to invest in specialist sorting, grading and packing machinery. The Moba grader can handle 170 cases, each of 30 dozen, or 61,200 eggs, an hour and could handle production from 45 flocks, packing about 65m eggs a year.

In January 2012, volumes increased to about 850,000 eggs a week, which doubled by the end of the year as more free-range producers sent their eggs to Attleborough.

“We’re now taking eggs from 22 farms but we need more,” said Ms Bullen. “We’re really needing more so we’re encouraging more East Anglia farmers to come onboard.”

The majority of eggs were coming from farms in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and south Lincolnshire. “We’ve slightly broadened our supply search, purely because we need the supply of the eggs,” she added.

“We’ve got to about half capacity for the site and the machinery’s capacity. We have scope for additional capacity. At the moment on the sales side, I’m having almost to turn some local business down because we’ve not got the eggs at the moment, which is so frustrating. We can’t expand as fast as we’d like,” she said.

Anglia Free Range has also been awarded an ‘A’ grade by the British Retail Consortium accreditation. “We got the highest grade for the BRC. I would have been glad to have passed but to get an A was really brilliant for the whole team,” she added.

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