The British Free Range Egg Producers Association has honoured the businesses and individuals who have blazed a trail in the sector in the 2017 Free Range Awards.
A record crowd exceeding 500 people saw the Elanco-sponsored accolades handed out to the winners in Birmingham.
The awards recognise excellence in free range eggs, be it short-term marketing campaigns or life-long contributions to a successful, prosperous sector.
The BBC’s rural affairs correspondent Tom Heap presented the winners with their trophies.
BFREPA chairman James Baxter said: “There are some fantastic businesses and individuals involved in free range eggs and our aim is to celebrate those who are at the top of their game.
“For our sector to be profitable and sustainable we need the passion, enthusiasm and dynamism that the winners of the awards this year have demonstrated.
“We hope that celebrating their achievements will serve to inspire others and together free range eggs can be an even stronger sector.”
Two Producer of the Year awards were handed out.
In the over 16,000-bird category, Donald Seed from the Woodend Partnership in Duns in the Scottish Borders took top spot.
The 32,000-bird unit was set up in 2011 and has become an integral part of the whole farming business. Reducing dependence on bought-in fertiliser and energy, creating additional employment and improving the conservation value of farm were all elements that impressed the judges.
Father and son team David and William Maughan have been in egg production for 15 years and, in the eyes of the judges, portray an excellent image of free range.
Good bio-security, an appetite to innovate and a strong participation in promoting farming more widely were among the reasons why the Maughans beat competition in the under 16,000 birds category.
Judges felt that Aldi’s approach to supplier relations will ultimately lead to a more sustainable future for many free range businesses and awarded the company the Retailer of the Year award.
Direct relationships allow farmers to grow with the retailer, giving them the confidence to invest in their futures, the judges said.
The happy egg co’s Chain of Happiness marketing campaign, which has been running since October 2016, has seen more than £5m invested with hen welfare and tasty eggs at its core.
A TV advert in particular has landed well with consumers and analysis from advertising experts has recorded huge brand recognition levels, prompting the judges to award the company the Marketing Initiative of the Year accolade.
Humphrey Feeds has grown to become a name synonymous with the poultry industry and Peter Humphrey’s involvement over the past 55 years has been recognised with a Lifetime Achievement award.
The judges applauded Peter’s relentless enthusiasm, pride and passion which runs through his working life.
British Egg Industry Council chief executive Mark Williams’ role during the 2016/17 avian influenza housing order has led to him picking up an Outstanding Contribution to the Industry award.
Mark coordinated industry stakeholders to ensure eggs from free range birds which were forced to be housed for more than 12 weeks could be over-stickered rather than being downgraded to barn eggs, potentially saving producers millions of pounds in lost revenue.
And the now-retired John Cessford was presented with a special recognition award for his work during a career at ForFarmers to develop the BFREPA Conference – now the largest conference for egg producers in the UK.