Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)

Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Do you know where your “Island” eggs come from?

For many, it’s a Vancouver Island grocery store. They were likely even graded and packaged on Vancouver Island. But do you know where they were actually laid?

“The eggs that you’re receiving here on the Island under that label could be from as far away as Manitoba,” said Jennifer Woike, co-owner of the Cowichan Valley-based Farmer Ben’s Eggs.

Woike is frustrated with her company’s inability to get their locally laid eggs on the shelves of mega-chain grocery stores on the Island, despite some of those stores wishing they could carry them.

RELATED: Cowichan Valley egg farm cleaning up after devastating fire

RELATED: ‘Egg-cellence’: Recipes shared as egg donations pour through the cracks in the North Island

“Did you know that Vancouver Island cannot currently support its egg needs? Meaning we don’t produce enough eggs currently to sustain the consumer’s needs. Did you know how many eggs are shipped to Vancouver Island from the Fraser Valley, Alberta and possibly as far away as Manitoba? Those eggs are on your grocery store shelves,” Woike said. “Some of them have branding leading you to believe that they are in fact local or Island-produced.”

They’re not.

While consumers are much more aware of where their food comes from these days, there are still some confusing marketing areas that make it tricky for customers to truly know.

For example, Woike couldn’t use the word “organic” because she’s not certified organic, despite her company doing everything organically.

Just the same, somebody could use the word “Island” in their marketing, even when the eggs aren’t from the Island.

An egg company Farmer Ben’s competes with uses the word “Island” in their marketing. The company has a grading station on Vancouver Island but it grades eggs from all over Western Canada, Woike explained.

“All of the eggs come over here, and are graded on the Island, and then shipped out back to all the stores.”

What’s more, the contracts to supply those eggs are pushing the truly local merchants out of the mix.

“We have grocery stores wanting to carry locally produced eggs, but they can’t,” Woike explained. “They can’t because they are locked into contracts in which the wording states that no other eggs are allowed to be sold other than the major…multi-million-dollar corporation that holds that contract. Even if the consumer is asking, even if the grocery store manager locally wants to carry the local eggs — the answer is no.”

Woike said they’ve even gone so far as to offer to purchase their own egg coolers at their own cost just to get their eggs into the stores but not on the same shelves as the other eggs, but that didn’t fly either. They can’t even be in the store.

“These contracts are taking away the consumer and the retailer’s right to purchase the eggs that they are wanting, the eggs that their customers are requesting and, in some cases, demanding,” Woike said.

What’s the solution?

“The solution is, I think, that the consumer has to push back,” Woike said. “That’s the only way I can see this being driven. The consumer needs to, if the consumer wants to support local then they need to truly understand what that is in the grocery store.”

She suggests looking for brands that carry the BUY BC logo or the ISLAND GOOD logo to know that your eggs are local.

If you want to ensure you are getting local eggs, buying the ones that say “Island” on it is no longer good enough.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

cowichan valleylocal business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Metchosin council introduced a bylaw at a special council meeting Wednesday, which, if approved, would limit further subdivision of a 40-acre portion of the Boys and Girls Club property. The proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Metchosin council introduces bylaw to limit subdivision of Boys and Girls Club property

Proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15

Sooke Lake Reservoir, shown here, is the primary storage site for Greater Victoria’s drinking water supply. The Capital Regional District just purchased a property on the north edge of the water supply area to help further protect the supply. (Photo courtesy CRD)
CRD acquires 58.7-hectare watershed to further protect Greater Victoria drinking water supply

Forested area near Grant Lake is part of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

Karen DeCicco and Darren Russell have been named principals of the Sooke School District’s two newest schools, both under construction in Langford. DeCicco will lead Pexsisen Elementary while Russell will be at Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School, both starting in spring of 2022. (Courtesy Sooke School District)
Principals named for new Langford schools set to open in 2022

Sooke School District tabs veteran educators with strong track records on the West Shore

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read