We’re sure you will be familiar with Harvester, a household-name, family-friendly UK restaurant chain with over 230 sites from Perth to Portsmouth serving up a whopping 30 million meals each year. We were delighted to find out that they use free range shell eggs in their menus so we spoke to Harvester’s Marketing Manager, Laura Walker, to find out more…
1. We notice you specify free range eggs on your breakfast menus which we applaud. What is Harvester’s overall egg policy?
Thank you, we are very proud of the egg dishes on our menu. Our shell on egg policy is to always use free range. They are the best and most delicious so of course we want to give that to our guests.
2. When did Harvester decide to switch to free range eggs and what drove this – was it a corporate policy decision or based on consumer research?
We wanted to ensure that our guests were getting great quality, delicious eggs and we knew that moving to free range would ensure we were always eggsellent!
3. Roughly how many free range eggs does Harvester use each year?
Harvester currently serve our guests over 6.5 million free range shell on eggs every year, that’s a whole lot of eggs!
4. How do you work with farmers to source eggs for your restaurants?
Harvester take great care to ensure we only source shell on eggs from pre-approved suppliers with the highest technical standards that can offer the best quality eggs at the right price 52 weeks of the year. All shell on eggs are purchased from approved suppliers, with whom we have full written contractual agreements. They are audited on a regular basis by the British Retail Consortium. All our shell on egg suppliers hold Certificates of Conformity to show they meet the Codes of Practice required to supply free range British Lion Quality Eggs.
5. Some restaurants would claim that using free range eggs is too expensive in order to offer customers great value for money. How does Harvester manage to do this and stay competitive?
We have a great procurement team who work really hard to make sure that we can use great quality ingredients whilst still pricing them fairly on our menus, so it’s a big well done to that team for managing to get free range eggs for us.
6. You have made the switch to a free range egg policy. How important do you think welfare is to your customers?
We think that welfare is very important to our guests, as it is to us. It’s become a national issue and we are a brand that is at the heart of the nation. As a responsible company, Mitchells & Butlers regard the welfare of livestock as a matter of utmost importance. Our animal welfare policy is applicable to all suppliers of beef, pork, lamb, poultry, dairy, eggs and fish. As part of our Procurement Policy we require all suppliers of meat and poultry products to procure material produced from livestock reared in accordance with the Five Freedoms, as developed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council.
7. Your website states that ‘All Harvester meals are freshly prepared.’ With healthy eating being at the forefront of the news, how can Harvester help consumers make better food choices?
Our salad bar is definitely a huge encouragement for our guests to include healthy choices when they dine with us. We use fresh ingredients that are cooked to order to ensure the best tasting dishes possible. Our kids menu also has a choice of sides, which we won a Soil Association award for in 2015, ensuring that parents can help their kids make healthy choices.
8. We’ve heard all about Harvester’s infamous salad bar! Is it really free and unlimited? How many times do people go back for more?!
Yes, it’s true! Every guest, including kids, all get to go to the salad bar as often as they like! On average guests go at least twice. At breakfast it becomes a breakfast bar with pancakes, cereal, yoghurt and more that comes free with every cooked breakfast or egg dish. It’s so good!
9. We like your advertising line ‘Harvester: There’s a fresh thought.’ What fresh ideas can we look forward to from Harvester over the next year?
We have some great new twists and flavours that we will be adding to the food and drinks menu in the coming months, as well as fresh new design to Harvester which will be coming soon.
10. What do you think of the British Hen Welfare Trust’s efforts to promote free range eggs and support British egg farmers?
We love the BHWT here at Harvester, we think the work you do at re-homing the lovely laying ladies is fantastic and we are looking forward to working with you and supporting that work in the future.
11. And finally, I would love to know a little more about you and ask a couple of personal questions if I may. What is your favourite egg dish?
I love the Avacado Brunch Egg Special that we have on the menu, it’s avocado and tomato salsa topped with two perfectly poached free-range eggs, served on a toasted breakfast muffin. So gooooooooood!
12. Are you a hen-lover and would you ever consider keeping hens as pets?!
I do have 3 ex-battery hens myself. Ethel, Henrietta and Marjory are all living the free range life of luxury now. The eggs they lay are amazing! I’d recommend keeping chickens to anyone, they are so much fun and have such lovely personalities.