24 November 2017 | Online since 2003

11 March 2015

Marks and Spencer market double yolker packs


Marks & Spencer is marketing boxes of guaranteed double yolk eggs as part of a high value offer to its customers.

The retail giant put its British Free Range Double Yolkers on sale in stores during February and they are clearly aimed at consumers who are prepared to pay a little bit more for their eggs. The double yolkers have gone on sale priced at £2.75 for six. A spokesman for the company conceded that supplies would be limited because of the rarity of finding an egg with a double yolk.

The company, itself, said that the chances of finding a double yolk in an egg was less than 0.1 per cent. Alex McDaniel of Minster Vets said it was impossible to put a figure on the incidence of double yolks. She said that the incidence of double yolks was unpredictable, although it was more likely to occur with younger birds.

“It is most common early in a hen’s life,” she said. “But there is huge variation from one flock to another. One problem in the past with supermarkets trying to sell double yolks is that they were not able to guarantee how many they would get each week. There is also the difficulty of identifying double yolks in the shell.”

Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) agreed that identifying double yolks was a difficult job. “It takes a very experienced operator and everything has to be done by hand,” he said.

Andrew said that each egg had to be candled by hand to try to identify the double yolkers. An experienced operator would be able to see the shadow of the two yolks through the shell. But he said the work was time consuming because it had to be done by hand. The eggs also had to be individually stamped by hand. “It makes it a very expensive job because of the handling involved,” said Andrew.

He said that, because of the unpredictability of finding double yolkers, supplies would inevitably be limited to small numbers.

Andrew said he thought that Marks & Spencer had always sold a limited number of double yolkers, but in its latest move the company said that it was going nationwide with the offer in February. It said that each egg in the special packs would be a very large egg and each one would contain two or more yolks.

Marks & Spencer product developer, Ali Rodham said, “We’re really excited to be selling Double Yolkers. We think they’re cracking, and we’re sure our customers will too.” She said, “Perfect for people who think the yolk is the best bit of the egg, Double Yolkers are not only are they delicious, but they are healthy too.”

The company said in a statement outlining the launch that double yolks were a natural phenomenon that occurred sporadically in young hens. It said that, according to the British Egg Information Service, it was rare for an egg to be double yolked - as rare as one in 1,000 eggs. But the statement said that Marks & Spencer would be able to ensure that boxes contained double yolkers because of the monitoring done by operators at the packing centre.

“To ensure the M&S Double Yolkers contain at least two yolks, a method called candling is used, where the eggs are individually inspected by hand,” said the company. “They are held in front of a bright light, which shows the shadow of the yolks inside the egg shell - a bit like an x-ray view.” It is this work that Andrew Joret says requires a very experienced operator to carry out.

In its marketing material, Marks & Spencer says that, because the yolk is the nutrient store of the egg, it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A, D, E and iron. It says they are “great for people looking to get a boost of nutrients in their diet.”

Double Yolkers have been launched together with a new range of special breed eggs being sold in the company’s stores. Other offerings include Araucona Blue eggs and Maran Island Brown eggs. In its publicity, M&S says they are “hand selected and inspected for quality before being packed individually into the pack. They are laid by hens which roam freely in lush pasture and enjoy the shelter of trees as well as surrounding hedgerows for foraging and dust bathing.”

The British Free Range Araucona Blue egg is described by M&S as having a “plump rich creamy yolk in a distinctive pastel blue shell.” The company says the eggs are laid on specially selected M&S Select British farms where the hens have the freedom to roam and forage under trees and hedges and where they are fed a naturally enriched diet containing marigold and paprika extracts. These ingredients, says M&S, give the yolk its unique richness. It says the hens that lay Araucona Blue eggs are a hybrid of Araucona White Rock, Plymouth Rock and Light Sussex breeds. A box of six eggs is priced at £2.25.

The British Free Range Maran Island Brown eggs are said by Marks & Spencer to have a “delicious dense golden yolk in a glossy dark brown shell.” It says the eggs are laid by a hybrid bird of Maran Copper Black, Plymouth White Rock, Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex breeds. “The hens have the freedom to roam and forage in lush pasture on M&S Select farms and enjoy the shelter of trees, as well as surrounding hedgerows for foraging and dust bathing,” it says. Like the Araucona Blue eggs, they are priced at £2.25 for six.

M&S is also selling a mixed box of six speciality eggs - two blue, two deep brown and two snowy white for £3.00.

M&S has sold only free range eggs since 1997 and since 2002 it has only used free range eggs as an ingredient in its prepared foods.

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