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Egg stamping way forward for free range industry

Eggs at supermarket (file photo).  Emme McKay

The free-range egg industry is scrambling for a solution following investigations into false advertising in the industry.

Egg stamping may be the solution to protect the integrity of New Zealand's free range eggs.

The idea comes after Countdown supermarkets removed Palace Poultry eggs from shelves following a newsroom.co.nz investigation, which found the company was selling caged eggs under the label of free-range.

Palace Poultry co-owner Terry Fletcher said in a statement the company rejected all allegations and only ever supplied free range eggs. 

Ecofoods, who supposedly supplied Palace Poultry the free range eggs, said it labelled all its products as caged eggs. 

Ecofoods has now taken all of its egg products off its website. 

Egg Producers Federation chief executive Michael Brooks said egg stamping would solve miscommunication between farmers and consumers.

Brooks said Palace Poultry was a well-known poultry farm with more than 20,000 hens and a good reputation for being free range.

Demand meant the company had to go to a wholesaler to buy more eggs. 

He said stamping eggs as free range or caged would stop false advertising. 

He said the issue with egg stamping was the cost. 

The costs range from 3-4 cents per dozen or sometimes higher, which could hurt small farms.

"There is machinery that would have to be bought, for the little farms there are problems like hand stamping and a lot of the little guys are saying we can not afford all of this." 

Since 2014, egg farmers in New South Wales have been required to stamp their eggs with the producers unique identifier.