Retailer Morrisons has announced new direct contract supply opportunities for egg producers in Northern Ireland.
The supermarket chain is looking to increase its supply base and position itself at the forefront of the market with Northern Irish producers.
The move is part of its strategic plan for expansion, with the goal of ensuring a stable and sustainable supply chain for eggs across the UK.
The contracts are designed to instil stability for new and existing egg producers, financially de-risking egg production, while building long-term, mutually beneficial supply partnerships.
Morrisons, known as British farming’s biggest single customer, champions partnerships across supply chains and buys directly from over 2,700 farmers and growers.
Northern Ireland has been identified as a supply priority for eggs in recognition of the quality and expertise within Northern Ireland’s poultry sector, and to widen the supply base to help mitigate risk posed by avian flu.
Co Tyrone egg producer Alfie Shaw will lead supply chain development in Northern Ireland.
With 24 years’ experience in poultry, and a successful track record in supply chain collaboration in the wider agri-food sector, Shaw believes the new approach to supply agreements will be transformative for egg producers that meet the supermarkets’ requirements.
He said: “Morrisons is removing a great deal of financial risk from egg producers with these contracts, and that’s absolutely transformational, especially for new producers who are exposed to rises in the cost of production.
“The new contracts are designed to ensure stability of supply by giving producers a fair deal while building long term commitments.
"They guarantee a percentage over and above independently assessed cost of production figures, along with producer-friendly terms.
"I’m looking forward to speaking with new and existing NI egg producers to explore the benefits that this exciting new supply opportunity presents.”
March saw the first consignment of eggs from Northern Ireland to Morrisons, and supply is growing week on week as new producers come on board.
Eggs are packed, graded and distributed through Chippindale Foods, the Yorkshire-based wholesaler, now owned entirely by Morrisons, which supplies the supermarket with around 350m free range and organic shell eggs year.
Claire Anderson, commercial manager for eggs at Chippindale, said: "Since Morrisons bought Chippindale five years ago the business has invested in significant automation and introduced liquid egg production.
"It is a natural step for us to grow our producer base in new areas as we continue on our journey of growth.
"The quality of production in Northern Ireland is very strong, and we want to grow our supply base here by offering long term contracts that work for both parties.”
For more information on Morrisons direct supply contracts, interested parties should contact Alfie Shaw, supply chain development for NI, on 07775 730000.