Egg industry calls on public to look beyond size on ‘Stir-up Sunday’

Free range egg farmers across Britain are urging the public to mix it up when it comes to the size of eggs they use in their Christmas pudding recipes this Stir-Up Sunday.

On November 25, bakers across the country will put on their aprons to carry out a British tradition dating back to the Victorian era, when families would gather together to make their festive pudding.

But this year, the egg sector is calling on consumers to quit their obsession with using large eggs in the recipe and instead buy a box of mixed weight to support what hens lay naturally – a range of egg sizes.

James Baxter, a free range egg producer and chairman of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA), said: “British consumers have a love affair with large eggs and we don’t really know why.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon which is probably driven by a perceived sense of value and modern recipes insisting on large eggs when traditionally size wasn’t specified.

“We want consumers to understand that hens lay a range of sizes – from small to large – and we would love to see shoppers choosing mixed weight or medium eggs which are just as nutritious and tasty.”

Only half the eggs an average hen lays in its lifetime will be large, with the rest being medium or small.

Eggs are graded by weight and the increase in size is more attributable to the quantity of white rather than the amount of yolk where the lion’s share of nutrition is found.

BFREPA says bakers should follow the Womens’ Institute – a global authority on baking – which has many Christmas pudding recipes using medium eggs or where size is not stipulated.

‘An obsession’

About 13 billion eggs are eaten in Britain every year and BFREPA says shoppers prefer to buy large or very large eggs rather than medium or mixed weight boxes, and too often recipes are misleading when they state the size of the egg needs to be large.

James said: “We want to consumers to know that bigger is not always better.

In the run-up to Christmas, we would love to see more consumers buying medium or mixed weight boxes of eggs which contain medium and large eggs – it’s better for the hens and supports what they lay naturally.

According to ADAS, free range hens will typically lay 55% large or very large eggs and 45% medium, smalls and second quality eggs.

Eggs are graded as very large (over 73g), large (63-73g), medium (53-63g) and small (below 53g).

Free range egg producers typically receive 6p/dozen less for medium eggs than a large egg.