Watercress Lane, the UK’s largest producer of duck eggs, has launched its own quality mark, the ‘Blue Duck’, to guarantee its eggs are produced to consistently high standards of freshness, food safety and animal welfare. The Norfolk based company is also now the only duck egg producer in the UK to stamp its eggs with both lay and best-before dates.
Though there is already growing demand from both high street consumers and top end restaurants for duck eggs, Melandy Daniels, manager at Watercress Lane, believes that a recognisable guarantee of quality will help reinforce consumer trust regarding traceability and quality standards.
“Eggs are one of the simplest and most nourishing food sources,” she said “and duck eggs have more protein, minerals and vitamins than hen eggs as well as a proper egg flavour, but the received wisdom is that they are not as hygienic or reliable. We know that this isn’t true and have introduced the ‘Blue Duck’ to give consumers that guarantee.”
But that “received wisdom” on duck eggs is based on 60 year old post war attitudes and, though the demand for duck eggs has plummeted since then, few people remember why they fell out of favour. The challenge for Watercress Lane is to reintroduce them to a new market unencumbered by historical prejudice.
This endeavour is already bearing fruit with a recent agreement to supply Secretts Direct, the fruit and veg supplier run by Vernon Mascarenhas and part owned by Gregg Wallace of Masterchef fame. Secretts’ order list reads like a Michelin star food guide and Watercress Lane eggs will soon be proving themselves in top end London restaurants such as Corrigans, The Ivy, Scotts, La Gavroche and Nobu.
All eggs carrying the ‘Blue Duck’ are hand candled, to check the quality, washed, dried, graded and shipped out the day after laying and, in order to preserve the integrity of the eggs’ shells and ensure they stay fresher for longer, ‘Blue Duck’ eggs are unbleached as this strips the egg of the waxy coat that protects it from infection.
All 28,000 ducks at Watercress Lane’s hatcheries are managed in accordance with the RSPCA’s ‘Freedom Foods’ code of conduct – no mean feat when they are producing more than seven and a half million eggs each year. For cleanliness and dietary control, without which ducks will eat anything, the flocks are barn kept with plenty of natural daylight and open water pools for preening and paddling.
With eggs now being hailed as a new superfood, the ‘Blue Duck’ initiative also comes at just the right time. Despite being low in calories, duck eggs are larger and more nutritionally dense than hen eggs and contain all eight essential amino acids thought vital to good health, particularly for growth and development in infancy and early life.
Watercress Lane’s aim is to put duck eggs back on our menus where they can make a valuable contribution to healthy balanced diets and the ‘Blue Duck’ scheme is just what is needed to guarantee a fresh, natural and delicious egg.
Watercress Lane Duck Eggs
Tel: 01362 850254