Trust is key to success for Anglia Free Range Eggs

Published on : 19 Jun 2024

Harry Irwin collecting his outstanding achievement award

For Anglia Free Range Eggs, trust is essential to maintaining their relationship with longstanding partner, Tesco, according to director and shareholder Harry Irwin.

The Norfolk based packer has been a supplier for Tesco since it was formed in 2010, growing to provide a significant share of the retailer’s own label egg. Harry cites strong personal relationships, loyalty, and fair contracts as key reasons for their stability as a business and ability to ride out the recent inflation and AI crises.

Earlier this year Harry was given an outstanding achievement award by Tesco for his commitment to both the retailer and producer base. He has been working with Tesco for over 20 years having set up a poultry business which provides free range and organic chicken for the supermarket before he diversified into eggs, continuing his relationship with the company.

Harry told the Ranger: “Tesco have been incredibly supportive over a long time: as we have grown they have grown our share. They have been very keen to be as involved as they can in our producer base and were particularly supportive during the recent inflation crisis with a clear pricing structure to help manage the problem. Thanks to a clear open dialogue we have built up a strong partnership built on trust”.

These same principles have helped Anglia to build up a loyal producer base which Harry credits to the structure of their business and the quality of his team. He said: “We are very fortunate that many of our staff are highly experienced and long serving. We try to maintain a small business mentality in what has grown to become a significantly sized operation. This means we have a small management team with minimal layers in the business structure, enabling us to make decisions quickly and give producers fast answers”.

Harry added that he believes the ability to maintain personal relationships with producers as well as fair contracts has helped Anglia Free Range to grow in the recent climate. “We have managed to maintain and grow our producer base significantly through the inflation and AI crises. There has been a huge amount of price pressure and competition between producers, but we have maintained a sensible pricing structure built on trust and the relationship between ourselves and our producers”.

Whilst the heart of their production is based in East Anglia, the business has expanded into new regions with a significant amount of supply now sourced from Wales, and the Midlands. This growth has outgrown the packing facilities on their site, leading to a plan to double packing capacity. As part of this Anglia have made investments in new equipment including a grader, which is the first of its kind in the UK, and state of the art tray and pallet washing machinery. The hope is that this will enable the business to continue to grow their production base into the future.

Jack Sadler, Buying Manager for Eggs and Poultry at Tesco told the Ranger that the success of their relationship with Anglia Free Range, and Harry in particular, has been built on loyalty and their high quality of performance. He said: “In the 15 years that Anglia have been supplying egg to Tesco they have achieved only the highest grade available for packaging centre audits and been instrumental in supporting Tesco navigate the well-known challenges seen across the Poultry and Egg industry, seeing Tesco outperform the market in both categories”.

He added: “Harry and Anglia Free Range are known as the go to experts on chicken, poultry and egg packing centres. Harry sits on almost all of the industry bodies for agriculture, technical and supply chain both at Tesco and wider, including being part of a taskforce working towards a solution for the largest industry challenge in Avian Flu. Harry mentors our future leaders, with many producers on ‘Tesco Young Farmers group’ coached by him”.