Britain’s biggest egg producer has promised to pay farmers more in a bid to increase supplies of UK wheat for feeding organic hens. To plaudits from a government keen to reduce “food miles,” Deans Foods, which produces over 40 million shell eggs a week, aims to raise the proportion of UK wheat used to 50% over five years.
Wheat makes up 60% of a hen’s diet. Deans’s conventional hens are all fed on UK-produced wheat, but the shortage of organic wheat makes it necessary to import feed wheat to make up the rations, Deans’s Agricultural Director Andrew Joret told a press conference in London. “This is the rub. 90% of it is imported,” he said.
To keep a flock of 430,000 organic hens going, Deans needs 12,000 tonnes of organic cereal. Under the new scheme, farmers will get £5 (US$8.10) a tonne more than the market price from Deans, Joret told just-food.com. Local supplies would make it easier to ensure the integrity of the organic supply chain.
Environment minister Michael Meacher welcomed the Deans move. “It is an example that I hope is going to be followed. By others in the sourcing of inputs,” he said. “It’s a win, win, win situation.”