Morrisons will offer consumers the first “carbon-neutral” eggs to be produced by feeding hens insects raised on food waste from the company’s supermarkets.
Chickens laying the eggs will have a soya-free diet including insects fed on food scraps from the retailer’s bakery, fruit and vegetable sites.
Cutting out soya avoids the emissions associated with large-scale deforestation to grow the crop in places such as Brazil – and transport pollution from shipping the feed.
As part of Morrisons’ drive to be directly supplied by zero-emissions British farms by 2030, insect “mini farm” containers have been installed at egg suppliers in Yorkshire by the Cambridge-based start-up Better Origin.
The farm that will supply the first of the planet-friendly eggs has a wind turbine and solar panels and will offset emissions at the facility by planting trees, the supermarket chain said.
Morrisons said insects are a normal part of a chicken’s diet and their new regime will not affect the quality or taste of the eggs they produce.
A report by the University of Cambridgewhich looked at factors including care of the hens and production of the eggs confirmed that the product is carbon neutral.
Rival supermarket Sainsbury’s also stocks “carbon neutral” eggs by the brand Respectful, but the hens are fed with field beans rather than insects.
Sophie Throup, head of agriculture at Morrisons, said: “This is our first carbon-neutral product and there will be many more to come.
“We know our customers consider the environmental impact of the food they eat and want affordable zero-emission produce.
“Eggs are a regular weekly purchase for most households and so we are thrilled that, after 18 months of hard work with our farmers, these eggs are finally hitting our shelves.”
Experts have long encouraged consumers to incorporate insects into western diets for health reasons and because they have a significantly lower carbon footprint than meat production.
There has not been a major change to consumers’ diets, but research suggests that using insects in the food production process could be an effective way to lower carbon emissions.
Ian Bamford, commercial director of the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, said: “We were very pleased to have the opportunity to review and analyse the approach that Morrisons have taken to calculating the carbon impact of several of their egg producers.
“It was clear that the mitigation actions that had been put in place by the first farm to produce carbon-neutral eggs enabled them to meet that goal.”
The free-range eggs will initially be available in 50 Yorkshire stores and a lower environmental impact store in Little Clacton, Essex, at a cost of 30p each or £1.50 for a pack of six.