David vs Goliath

Coke vs Pepsi

Or perhaps a better title would be David vs Goliath

 

Have you ever really wondered about where your eggs come from?

I mean logistically where they come from?

I hope we all know that eggs are laid from hens. Hens that are housed in many different ways in BC. The industry is transitioning to 100% cage free production systems by 2035. This means eggs will be produced in Free Run, Aviary and Free-Range types of housing.

Did you know that Vancouver Island cannot currently support its egg needs? Meaning we don’t produce enough eggs currently to sustain the consumer’s needs.

Did you know how many eggs are shipped to Vancouver Island from the Fraser Valley, Alberta and possibly as far away as Manitoba?

Those eggs are on your grocery store shelves. Some of them have branding leading you to believe that they are in fact local or island produced. I always encourage consumers to look for the packaged for or packaged by small print on the carton or packaging. Look for brands that carry the BUY BC logo or the ISLAND GOOD logo to know that your eggs are local.

 

We all are much more aware today of how our food is produced, but are we aware of where it’s produced?

 

It’s always been very interesting to me that when I go to any grocery store that I can buy both Coke and Pepsi. When we all know that Coke and Pepsi are obviously in competition with one another and yet they’re both on the shelf, albeit they are quite often found at opposite ends of the aisle.

 

It’s different for eggs. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see more local eggs on the grocery shelf?

 

Why is this?

The answer isn’t pleasant, and it is surprising to most.

 

We can’t afford to buy shelf space; we can’t afford grocery kickbacks.

Wait! What? Buying shelf space?? Kickbacks??  Yes, you read that right.

It all sounds a bit Teamster-ish but it’s true this is happening in the little old egg business.

 

We have grocery stores WANTING to carry locally produced eggs, but they can’t.

They can’t because they are locked into contracts, yes you heard me right egg contracts!

Contracts in which the wording states that NO other eggs are allowed to be sold other than the Major Grader/National/Multi-Million-dollar corporation that holds that contract.

Even if the consumer is asking, even if the Grocery store manager locally wants to carry the local eggs – THE ANSWER IS NO.

These contracts are taking away the consumer and the retailers right to purchase the eggs that they are wanting, the eggs that their customers are requesting and, in some cases, demanding.

Yes, I said it – These companies are taking away the rights of consumers.

We are consistently asked WHY? Why can’t I find your eggs at my grocery store? Consumers do not understand when told that we simply have been blocked from selling due to national companies holding non-competition contracts.

Why they ask? When they can find local honey right beside the national bear shaped honey bottle, the locally produced peanut butter next to Skippy’s, the island produced chicken at the meat counter right next to National companies’ brands? But in most cases, they can’t buy local eggs???

 

As in a lot of industries these days there is major players and then there is small locally owned and operated producers and graders. Farmer Bens Eggs happens to be one of the latter as are other egg producers/graders including Lockwood Farms and Springford Farms on Vancouver Island.

 

All we can afford to do is employee local people, use local trades and produce local eggs and hope that we can sell them to the consumers which mostly include independent grocery stores/ bakeries/hotels/restaurants/cafes/butcher shops/pubs who all believe in supporting local and have the choice to do so.

 

I used the analogy of David and Goliath earlier – the moral of this story is that there is an underdog situation, a contest where a smaller opponent faces a much bigger, perceived stronger adversary; and if successful the underdog will win in an unusual or surprising way.  We won’t give up – We are that Underdog.

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