Tuesday, 29 October 2013 21:43

SCRAMBLED EGGS - what does FREE range really mean?

There's no official Oz national standard for free range eggs, and the label on your carton can have any number of meanings depending on the producer. 

Without an official standard for free range products, consumers are at real risk of being misled by businesses wanting to cash in on the premium that a free range product attracts. The free range egg business is booming. It has 39% of the egg market in value, and free range eggs experienced the most growth in that category in the past year, according to Retail World Grocery Guide 2012.

In a CHOICE survey completed by 900 people:

- For 60% of respondents, it’s "essential" the eggs they buy are free range, while a further 25% say it’s ‘important’. 
- For 85% of free range buyers, animal welfare considerations are among the reasons for their choice.
- A surprising 43% of respondents rely SOLELY on the words ‘free range’ on the pack to assure them that a product is free range – more so than the logo of a certification body (11%) or a logo and the words 'free range' combined (28%). 
- More than half of respondents (52%) reported being willing to pay $3-$5 more per per dozen for free range rather than cage eggs.
Results highlight how important getting the real deal when buying free range is to consumers.

Tips for buying free range

If you want to ensure you are not being conned and that the free range eggs you buy meet your expectations:

- inform yourself about the free range standards behind the certifying bodies so you know exactly how eggs stamped with their logo have been produced, and
- check the packaging or producer websites of the eggs you buy for information about their standards – some go beyond the minimum requirements of their certifying body.