Suffolk poultry farmer set to launch ‘Peck’ protein drink made from egg whites

Free-range poultry farmer Matt Havers with his egg-based drink, PECK. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Free-range poultry farmer Matt Havers with his egg-based drink, PECK. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The demand for dairy-free protein drinks and a desire to find an alternative market for surplus eggs have prompted an East Anglian poultry farmer to develop a novel drink made from egg whites.

PECK Drinks is the brainchild of Matthew Havers, who wanted to find a use for eggs laid on the 110ha family farm in Cranley Green at Eye, near Diss, which weren't going to make it onto the supermarket shelves.

Traditionally, poultry farmers have not been able to sell second-grade eggs which didn't meet size, appearance and weight criteria – despite their quality being unaffected.

Kings Farm Foods wanted to make use of them, so the idea emerged for a drink with the principal ingredient as egg white, along with fruit juice to produce various flavours. At some stage, Mr Havers would like to do something with yolks too.

'The brand was set up in 2015, and it was created after we had a problematic flock of chickens that created a large percentage of eggs not suitable for retail,' he said. 'We wanted to create a product that boasted the health qualities of egg, but in a new convenient way.

'We have successfully been awarded two sets of grant funding for the creation of a new kind of beverage that uses egg as its main ingredient. We have free range chicken unit that sells eggs via a contract, but we are looking to further develop the product to use eggs from food waste sources.'

There are still hurdles to overcome and the product is not yet ready for the supermarket shelves, but Mr Havers already has large pre-orders, even before the official launch. He hopes to be in production in November and if things go to plan, he said the business could make up more than half the farm's profit by year three.

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'Almost every step has been fraught with challenges and obstacles to overcome,' he said. 'Some have been because of egg and its challenges, whilst others have been due to the unique nature of the product. One such example is that fact we could find no one in the whole of the UK to manufacture for us to the standard we require. This has meant we have had to go straight to manufacturing ourselves before we are even stocked on shelves.'

Mr Havers said he enjoyed the challenge of creating an entirely new food product, and bringing it to market.

'Farming is very solitary, so speaking and getting out is always nice,' he said. 'It has given for some interesting conversations however, the most noteworthy are the ones where consumers argue that are products can't be 'dairy-free' if we use eggs. The ensuing conversation goes through the birds and the bees, and how dairy is from cows and milk, and eggs from chickens...'

He said the venture benefited greatly from grant support and advice from the Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative, adding: 'Farming sometimes struggles to be much more than a supplier of bulk commodity materials. It's only when you are prepared to put in the extra effort and insight of adding value that it gets special.'