The Elm Farm Research Centre has been given a glowing accolade to Columbian Blacktail organic eggs, known as CBTs.
The centre, which has often been outspoken, is one of the leading organisations in the organic movement and describes themselves as “the UK’s leading research, development and advisory institution for organic agriculture” .
Elm Farm is currently in a situation surrounded by controversy because of its claims that organic standards are riddled with loopholes.
Stonegate and Waitrose operate the CBT system and after detailed analysis was carried out it has nothing but praise for everything, from production standards to packing centre controls.
The report, which is published in the Elm Farm Bulletin, follows the production chain from the 4,000 birds laying unit run by producer Rachel Rivers in Wiltshire . It states that that committed Waitrose/Stonegate producers like Rachel Rivers “adhere closely to Soil Association standards”.
It carries on in its praise for the system and describes the attention to detail and record keeping at the farm as “scrupulous”. Another highly impressive factor is that Waitrose itself runs an independent audit of its egg supply operation every 18 months.
The report highlights how Waitrose can be alerted to any under-supply of eggs or over-supply, which could reveal that CBT eggs are being diverted in breach of the contract between the packer and the retailer . This is due to the integrated Stonegate system .
It seems that there is only one area that the EFRC report can find a criticism of, the flock size, and even then it finds fault only with the Soil Association.
“Waitrose and Stonegate assert that their organic egg supply chain represents a unique third approach sitting between mass market supply and the niche outlets”, states the report.
“They freely admit there is continuing work required to develop and enhance the standards further and they are working with all stakeholder groups to achieve this.”
The Elm Farm Research Centre concludes, “Stonegate and Waitrose deserve credit for their commitment to poultry welfare and quality egg supply. Between them they currently represent the best supply of organic eggs for UK supermarkets.”