Farmer with eggs

Everything You Need to Know When Buying Eggs (Part 2)

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Tiana Hape-Cramond 1

Tiana Hape-Cramond

(Associate Registered Nutritionist)

Beginner Evidence Based Potential Allergens

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With its commitment to sustainable practices, animal welfare, and quality production, New Zealand has emerged as a significant player in the global egg market.  

From free-range to organic, we unravel the certifications that shape consumer choices and also safeguard the welfare of hens and the environment.

This article looks into New Zealand egg farms and understanding the significance of certifications in ensuring transparency, sustainability, and ethical standards in egg production.

Eggs Farms in New Zealand

In New Zealand there are approximately 157 egg farms. In December 2022, from this number of farms, egg production was:

  • 34% free-range
  • 33% colony farms
  • 33% barn-raised eggs[1]

From the Agricultural Census in 2017 showed that Auckland produced 19.9% of eggs, Otago 19.6% and Manawatū-Whanganui produced 14.4% eggs.[2] 

Frenz is largest organic free-range company in New Zealand and has been producing eggs for over 25 years.[3]

Zeagold is the largest producer of eggs and egg products with 1.3 million hens. Zeagold products include: 

  • Farmer Brown (colony farm and barn-raised)
  • Woodland (free-range farm)
  • Henmade (colony farm)
  • Country Life Eggs (colony farm)[4] 

Henergy cage-free eggs, who pioneered barn-raised eggs, combined with Heyden Farm and Rasmusens Poultry Farm in 2020 under a new name Better Eggs to produce barn-raised and free-range eggs.[5] These combined companies account for 23% of New Zealand’s egg production.[6] 

Egg production in New Zealand
Infometrics analysis of Stats NZ data

Wholesome Eggs produce eggs under the brands: 

  • Higgins Free-Range
  • The Natural Free Range
  • Natural Green Eggs
  • Little Red Hen

Macro Eggs are the organic brand of eggs produced by Woolworths/Countdown as well as their Countdown brand Barn eggs.

Some other eggs producers include: 

  • Otaika Valley 
  • Whangaripo Eggs
  • Pams

New Day Eggs and Morning Harvest are both a part of Independent Egg Producers Co-operative Ltd. 

It’s always a good idea to buy local and support smaller businesses and producers.

Certification systems and standards

SPCA Certified

The first SPCA was formed in Canterbury in 1872, then followed by Otago, Wellington and Auckland. The SPCA certification started in New Zealand in 2000 to improve animal welfare for farmed animals.[7]

This certification ensures that the farms are meeting society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Certified animal welfare standards. 

These standards aim for the animals to have a good life and are based on scientific research and best practices that are reviewed every three years. SPCA Certified products ensure animals have good nutrition, good physical environment, good health and appropriate behavioural interactions.[8]

There are 17 requirements for this certification. Some examples of this includes that structures must not restrict hen movement, feed is free from sub-therapeutic antibiotics, and bird inspection at least twice a day.[9]

BioGro

BioGro is New Zealand’s largest certifier for organic products. It is also internationally recognised and accredited.[10] 

BioGro has been certifying organic foods for thirty-five years. As of 1st October 2016, BioGro is owned by the Soil and Health Association, which is the largest and oldest organisation supporting organic food and farming. Farmers that are certified by Soil and Health Association are subject to annual inspections to maintain standards.[11] 

Becoming organic certified means that: 

  • products are able to be traced back to its origin
  • animals welfare is maintained to the highest standards
  • producer maintains clean green New Zealand practices
  • producer maintains biodiversity
  • producer uses reusable or recyclable packaging, cares for workers 
  • producer has transparent advertising 
  • producer does not practice genetical engineering or altering.[12] 

AsureQuality

AsureQuality is a government owned entity that specialises in food safety and biosecurity to the food and primary production sectors.[13] AsureQuality was formed in 2007 after the merger of AgriQuality and ASURE, which were established in 1998. 

AsureQuality certification means that products are produced following the organic principals. There are two types of assurance marks — AQ Certified and AQ Assured Transparency Programme. 

AQ Certified provides an independent and verified assurance, which relates to a specific claim. The claims include animal welfare, grass-fed and others. 

AQ Assured Transparency Programme provides a holistic supply chain transparency verification. This means that consumers can scan the QR code and view the checks along the supply chain — farm-to-fork verified information.[14] 

New Zealand Eggs Certification

Demeter — Biodynamics

Demeter is a world wide certification used to verify that foods and products were produced using biodynamic methods. In the early 1920s European farmers were worried about the signs of agricultural decline. 

In New Zealand, biodynamic farming methods were first used in 1928 in Havelock North. BioDynamic Farming and Gardening Association was created in 1939.[15]

Biodynamics is a farming method that uses biodynamic sprays, stocks several different animal species to vary grazing patterns to reduce pasture-borne parasites, widens range of pasture species, plants trees for multiple reasons, favours crop rotation, recycles organic waste, and practices prevention strategies for pest control.[15]

Organic Farm NZ

Organic Farm is an organic certification system that is designed to be low cost for growers that supply only the New Zealand market. 

Organic Farm was established in 2002 and has approximately 130 producers members.[16]

The purpose of Organic Farm certification is to advocate, uphold and practice organic farming and gardening principles.[17]

Hua Parakore

Hua Parakore is an indigenous verification and validation system for foods and products. It is based on mātauranga, tikanga and te reo. 

This organisation is a kaupapa Māori pathway for Māori producers to tell their stories. Hua Parakore products are created in a safe environment and all elements are traceable with no exposure to contaminants including GMOs.[18]

Hua Parakore aligns with closed systems of production with zero or minimal inputs, promotes self-resilience and self-sustaining practices and works in harmony with nature.[19]

Trace My Egg

Trace My Egg is a programme that was introduced in 2019. It is recognisable by the 5-digit code that is stamped onto the eggs. 

These codes trace the egg back to the farm it originated from. This programme is to provide trust, transparency and traceability to consumers.[20]

Trace my Egg explanation
Source: Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand

Egg Shortage in New Zealand

At the beginning of this year a ban on battery-cages was enforced. This ban was introduced back in 2012 and gave egg farmers 10 years to phase out battery cages.  

This egg shortage is due to those who resisted the change from battery cages until the ban started to be enforced at the beginning of this year.[21]

In 2017 supermarkets announced that they would only be purchasing free-range or barn-raised eggs from 2025 (Woolworths) and 2027 (Foodstuffs). 

This decision was due to consumers wanting better animal welfare.[22]

Related Questions

1. Does New Zealand export eggs?
With New Zealand’s reputation for good farming practices, pest and disease control and animal welfare standards, New Zealand is ideal for egg-production. 

Eggs and egg products are exported to markets in Asia, North America and the Pacific.[23]

2. When will the egg shortage end?
Egg supply is expected to improve and the shortage could be lessened by the end of the year. This improvement is due to farmers purchasing more chickens.

If you are looking for our first article in this series, see Everything You Need to Know When Buying Eggs (Part 1).

Tiana is an Associate Registered Nutritionist who has a passion for public health and education. Working towards a Master’s in Nutrition Practice with a Bachelor’s in Human Nutrition, Tiana has a personal interest in healthy heart nutrition and promoting positive lifestyle behaviours. 

Tiana is a part of the Content Team that brings you the latest research at D’Connect.

References

(1) Egg Farming in NZ | Egg Producers Federation New Zealand [Internet]. Eggfarmers.org.nz. 2016 [cited 2023 August 22]. Available from: https://www.eggfarmers.org.nz/egg-farming-in-nz 

(2) Scrambling to find eggs in 2023 [Internet]. Infometrics.co.nz. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 22]. Available from https://www.infometrics.co.nz/article/2023-01-scrambling-to-find-eggs-in-2023 

(3) ‌The golden eggs [Internet]. NZ Herald. NZ Herald; 2015 [cited 2023 August 22]. Available from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/the-golden-eggs/XHSDFHTW53KPKKLOOCJZGV24TM/ 

(4) Shell eggs | Zeagold Quality Eggs [Internet]. Zeagold.co.nz. 2023 [cited 2023 August 22]. Available from https://www.zeagold.co.nz/products/shell-eggs 

(5) Heyden Farms Limited, Henergy Cage-Free Limited and Rasmusens Poultry Farms Limited [Internet]. Govt.nz. 2020 [cited 2023 August 22]. Available from https://comcom.govt.nz/case-register/case-register-entries/heyden-farms-limited,-henergy-cage-free-limited-and-rasmusens-poultry-farms-limited 

(6) Sprawling free-range egg farm set up in forest [Internet]. 1 News. 1News; 2023 [cited 2023 August 22]. Available from https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/02/28/sprawling-free-range-egg-farm-set-up-in-forest/ 

(7) About SPCA New Zealand – Animal Welfare Certified [Internet]. Spcacertified.nz. 2020 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.spcacertified.nz/about 

(8) Learn more: Raising the bar for animal welfare • SPCA New Zealand – Animal Welfare Certified [Internet]. Spcacertified.nz. 2020 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.spcacertified.nz/learn-more/article/raising-the-bar-for-animal-welfare 

(9) Our standards – subpage • SPCA New Zealand – Animal Welfare Certified [Internet]. Spcacertified.nz. 2019 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.spcacertified.nz/standards/farmed-animals 

(10) ‌History and Values | Organic Certification NZ | Organic Experts NZ. BioGro NZ [Internet]. BioGro NZ. 2016 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.biogro.co.nz/history-and-values

(11‌) Organic Certification Programmes | Organic Certification NZ | Organic Experts NZ. BioGro NZ [Internet]. BioGro NZ. 2023 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.biogro.co.nz/organic-certification-programmes 

(12) ‌About Organics | Organic Certification NZ | Organic Experts NZ. BioGro NZ [Internet]. BioGro NZ. 2023 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.biogro.co.nz/about-organic 

(13) A snapshot of Government-owned commercial entity AsureQuality [Internet]. The Treasury New Zealand. 2017 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-and-commentary/rangitaki-blog/snapshot-government-owned-commercial-entity-asurequality 

(14) Assurance Marks for Food Assurance & Safety | AsureQuality [Internet]. AsureQuality. 2023 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.asurequality.com/services/assurance-marks/ 

(15) ‌About Biodynamics [Internet]. Biodynamics New Zealand. 2022 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://biodynamic.org.nz/about-biodynamics 

(16) About Us – Organic Farm NZ [Internet]. Organicfarm.org.nz. 2022 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.organicfarm.org.nz/about 

(17) Organic Principles – Organic Farm NZ [Internet]. Organicfarm.org.nz. 2022 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.organicfarm.org.nz/being-organic/organic-principles 

(18) Join Hua Parakore [Internet]. Tewakakaiora.co.nz. 2023 [cited 2023 August 23].

(19) Hua parakore: an indigenous food sovereignty initiative and hallmark of excellence for food and product production | MAI Journal [Internet]. Mai.ac.nz. 2020 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.journal.mai.ac.nz/content/hua-parakore-indigenous-food-sovereignty-initiative-and-hallmark-excellence-food-and-product 

(20) Egg Labelling | Egg Producers Federation New Zealand [Internet]. Eggfarmers.org.nz. 2018 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.eggfarmers.org.nz/eating-eggs/egg-labelling 

(21) Sisson L. Eggsplainer: Where did all our eggs go? [Internet]. The Spinoff. The Spinoff; 2023 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://thespinoff.co.nz/business/10-01-2023/eggsplainer-where-did-all-our-eggs-go 

(22) Gerhard Uys. When will the egg shortage finally end? [Internet]. Stuff. 2023 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/131644231/when-will-the-egg-shortage-finally-end 

(23) Ministry for Primary Industries. Exporting eggs | NZ Government [Internet]. Govt.nz. 2013 [cited 2023 August 23]. Available from https://www.mpi.govt.nz/export/food/eggs/#:~:text=New%20Zealand%20is%20an%20ideal,%2C%20Asia%2C%20and%20North%20America 

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