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Aldi, founded in 1913 in Essen, Germany, is one of the leading global discount supermarket chains with over 9,000 stores in 18 countries. We have all seen their slick TV advertising, but we wanted to find out if Aldi’s welfare credentials are all they’re cracked up to be given their low prices, so we asked Joint Managing Director of Buying, Tony Blaines, half a dozen questions:

1. Tell us about Aldi’s egg range in the UK – roughly how many eggs does Aldi sell each year and what percentage are free range?

Aldi was one of the first signatories of the NFU’s ‘Back British Farming Charter’ showing a firm commitment to British farming, as well as supporting the RSPCA Freedom Food initiative, which guarantees that free range eggs have been independently audited to meet the RSPCA’s strict animal welfare standards. Over 57% of egg sales at Aldi are generated by free range eggs.

2. What are the constraints on converting to a 100% free range egg policy?

Our products respond to customer demand, meaning we stock a range of options in store. This includes a choice of free range eggs alongside lower priced eggs, both of which are clearly labelled.

3. Your web site states ‘Our nutritious eggs are all from UK farms so you can trust them for safety, freshness, responsible sourcing, and hen happiness’, but Aldi is well known for being a low budget supermarket, so how can you convince consumers that the eggs you sell are from farms using high welfare?

Over 95% of the products sold in our stores are own label. This enables us to sell quality products at leading prices whilst developing stable long-term relationships with our suppliers. We ensure that all animals used in our products are raised to relevant industry standards for animal welfare and support British and regional food production and manufacturing. As well as sourcing all our eggs from the UK, Aldi provides 100% British milk and meat from Red Tractor approved farms across Britain and are proud to be one of the first signatories on the NFU’s Fruit and Veg pledge, voicing our commitment to British growers and packers.

4. What more do you think the UK egg industry could do to encourage consumers on a tight budget to spend a little bit more for free range eggs? What more do you think the British Hen Welfare Trust could do to promote free range eggs and support British egg farmers?

By telling the stories of British farmers, the British Hen Welfare Trust could continue to educate consumers about hen welfare and the benefits of buying British eggs. Aldi clearly labels the provenance and production method on the packaging of our eggs to allow customers to make informed choices about their products.

5. Aldi operates across the EU, does your principle of responsible sourcing, and hen happiness apply across the whole EU, and how can you illustrate this?

Aldi UK and Ireland has a British based buying team and more than 50% of our products are sourced from within the UK. All Aldi countries share a commitment to responsible sourcing. Aldi UK supports the RSPCA Freedom Food initiative, which guarantees that our free range eggs have been independently and rigorously audited to meet the RSPCA’s strict animal welfare standards.

6. What percentage of your cakes and other cooked products contain only free range eggs?

This is not something Aldi actively markets, however, as a customer-focussed business, if there was a demand for free range egg usage in products to be monitored and communicated, we would review this as a business.

Now we like to think we are polite game changers and we noted Aldi’s comments about the use of free range eggs in their processed food products being down to consumer demand. We will therefore be initiating a campaign to encourage Aldi shoppers to ask for products that contain British free range eggs … watch this space.

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