THE UK consumes nearly 13 billion eggs every year. However, large eggs tend to be the preference of chefs and consumers alike. This can cause problems for free range producers, as a free range hen will typically lay 55 percent large or very large and 45 percent medium, small and second quality eggs.

In a new campaign, The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) is pointing out that there is often not much difference between eggs graded at different sizes. A 62 gram egg is graded as medium but a 63 gram egg is classed as large. The organisation has approached 50 celebrity chefs and high-profile bakers to help end Britain’s obsession with large eggs.

Mary Berry, Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc are among the celebrities that have been approached.

The organisation is encouraging the chefs to support what hens do naturally, laying eggs that are a range of sizes, and to remove references to the size of eggs used in recipes wherever possible. They are also encouraging shoppers to try a box of medium or mixed weight eggs rather than large.

The organisation’s chairman, James Baxter, said: “We are a nation of food lovers and that is driven on by the fantastic chefs and bakers we have in this country.

“Free range eggs are a staple of British diets but shoppers have become obsessed with getting the biggest egg they can.

“Egg size can be affected by a number of variables such as the weather, diet and light levels – as farmers bird welfare is our number one priority and we want to allow hens to lay what comes naturally.

“We hope that these letters will resonate with chefs and bakers who are in positions of influence but, more importantly, care deeply about how food is produced.”

Retailer promotions and a perceived sense of added value from consumers continues to drive demand for large eggs, but BFREPA says there is often very little difference between the sizes.

“As the size of an egg increases it contains a greater proportion of white, rather than yolk where the bulk of the nutritional value is contained,”, said James.