The free-range Respectful brand went on sale this week in Sainsbury’s (rsp: £1.99/six eggs) and adopts a number of practices and policies that “embraced the natural environment, rather than placing strain on it”, the supplier said.
The brand’s standout principle is its eschewing of soya feed – linked to deforestation in the Amazon – which was the “single biggest contributor of carbon in the production of eggs”, Stonegate added.
Instead, the Respectful brand used field beans grown on Stonegate’s farms, which were then processed into feed by the vertically integrated supplier’s own feed mills, which also allowed it to reduce the food miles required to feed its hens.
The field beans and crops are also direct drilled, Stonegate added, meaning soils were not ploughed. As well as meaning fewer tractor movements, reducing fuel use, this vastly reduced soil compaction and allowed for subterranean microbes to thrive, as opposed to being exposed to UV light – all of which was beneficial for soil health.
Respectful’s sustainability credentials were further burnished by its use of more efficient white hens, which produced white eggs, and were free to graze on open pastures and feed on GM-free crops.
The breed of hen is significantly more productive than standard brown hens, live 40% longer, and consume less feed, all contributing to a lower environmental impact, said Stonegate commercial manager Lewis Mercieca.
Both the farm and the packing centre used renewable energy from Respectful’s own solar array, he added, as well as procured wind energy, further contributing to the reduction of CO2e emissions.
The brand had also invested in offsetting projects focused on forest protection in South America, while Climate Partner, the solutions provider for corporate climate action, had independently verified the carbon footprint of the Respectful egg – monitoring its journey and impact from its beginnings on the farm through to Sainsbury’s stores.
“The Respectful egg reflects our passion for sustainable farming and the environment, our love for our hens, and our commitment to decarbonisation,” Mercieca said.
“We want customers to trust in our food, to trust in our eggs, and know that when they are purchasing a Respectful egg, that we have not only endeavoured to place the lightest footprint possible in delivering them a natural and delicious egg, but that every day we are trying to tread lighter still.”
Following its launch into Sainsbury’s, the brand was now looking to expand its reach via other retailers, Mercieca added.