Oaklands Farm Eggs Ltd is on a mission – to bring eggs produced and packed in Wales to shelves across the country, starting with a new deal to supply retailer Lidl with Welsh branded eggs.
One of Europe’s top egg producers the family-run company packs over one million eggs a day, with the capacity to process a staggering 500 million eggs a year at its £5 million state-of-the-art dedicated packing facility in North Wales.
“We already supply a number of retailers and our target is that every Welsh store should have premium Welsh eggs at a competitive price – providing consumers the choice to buy eggs which are not just produced but also packed in Wales,” says commercial director Elwyn Griffiths.
The majority of Oaklands’ customer base is in the UK food service sector, but the in-Wales retail side of the business is growing. Among its customers is national distributor, Holdsworth Foods, and a contract to supply Lidl with Welsh branded packs is just taking off.
“It’s an exciting development,” says Mr Griffiths. “Lidl’s customers will be able to buy organic free-range eggs and medium and large six packs confident they are buying a product which has been produced and packed in Wales.”
The Griffiths family began poultry farming on the Welsh borders 60 years ago, forming Oaklands Farm Eggs in 1969.
Today the business has a total turn over of £75 million of which £18 million is a direct result of its Welsh operation. There are 220 full time staff across its farming operations including its egg packing facility in Ruabon near Wrexham, which started production three years ago. There the company packs eggs for a wide range of retail brands, as well as its own Welsh egg lines.
“We are a Welsh family and we wanted to establish a Welsh packing station to add value to what is a premium product and support Welsh producers,” says Mr Griffiths who runs the business with his brother Gareth – sons of the businesses’ founders John Aled and Olwen Griffiths.
Help developing the 70,000 sq. facility on a 7.5-acre site at the Wynnstay Technology Park came in the form of a Processing and Marketing Grant from the Welsh Government, which has continued to assist Oaklands with business mentoring and support at vital trade events such IFE and last month’s Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham.
“We have had great support from the Welsh Government, both in setting up and attending trade events which have enabled us to make new contacts and secure new contracts. Indeed a contact we made at last year’s IFE in London resulted in an on-going contract.
“The Food & Drink Expo generated interest from the Far East which we are following up, and we are also looking into potential opportunities in Belgium, France, Germany and Holland.”
Over the years the company has received countless awards and plaudits for its business operation and commitment to animal welfare, among them the Health & Welfare Award at the Pig & Poultry Marketing Awards, the British Free Range Egg Producers Association’s Breakthrough Award and the prestigious Farmers Weekly Poultry Farmer of the Year Award.
While the opening in Ruabon of the BRC ‘A’ grade, British Lion, Freedom Foods and Organic Farmers and Growers accredited packing station, has also brought much-needed jobs to the area.
Also, in addition to increasing its list of Welsh producers, the company has recently invested in an existing business – Lampeter Eggs – entering into a partnership agreement that will provide Oaklands with an important distribution hub.
Adds Mr Griffiths, “We are building the infrastructure to create a whole supply chain that delivers a premium Welsh product to the marketplace with low food miles and the extra provenance today’s consumer demands. What’s more it will directly help farmers and therefore the economy in Wales. To that end we are working hard to promote Welsh eggs not just to consumers but to bodies in the public and private sectors.”
The sustainability and growth of the Welsh egg industry is something which is high on the Griffiths family’s agenda, and in recent years Oaklands has forged strong links with nearby Harper Adams University which specialises in agriculture.
Students are able to access the company’s world-leading Tecno colony system in Wem – which houses birds in 80-bird colony sections and is built to the highest standards of welfare. There they conduct research and get hands-on experience of a commercial poultry business.
Says Mr Griffiths, “Sadly, there has been a reduction in the number of young people coming into the egg industry, and we need to attract young people back to poultry farming.
“This area of farming is a highly technical and academic subject and we hope our coalition with Harper Adams will help spotlight the opportunities and create a test bed to benefit ourselves and the wider industry.”
Oaklands Farm Eggs Ltd commercial director Elwyn Griffiths with eggs that have been produced and packed in Wales.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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