Friday, December 09, 2011

Egg Industry Strategic Planning Workshop gives food for thought

Many egg producers will have received a copy of the workshop report following the AECL meeting in Tassie last month. They will have noted the following details – but for those who haven't received a copy, this might help. It makes interesting reading.

Apparently, many participants at the workshop agreed that industry credibility was the highest strategic priority for the Egg Corporation – which makes many producers wonder why the Egg Corp. is trying to undermine confidence in the free range sector with its determination to adopt a new standard which has no science behind it.

Some of the key points in the report which makes us smile (or want to throw things) are:

AECL Action

A credible egg industry will be delivered through the development, adoption and enforcement of Egg Standards Australia ( ESA). ESA must have integrity, it must be a national standard, third party audited and established and enforced at 'arms length' from the egg industry.. Key ESA requirements (hen welfare and food safety) should be supported by independent science (eg maximums for birds per hectare in free range systems and enforced). Development of ESA will be an ongoing and iterative process, The QA program's status and requirements must be communicated by AECL through the state farmers organisations and in local meetings with egg producers.

AECL must work with the egg industry to deliver traceability truth-in-labelling and drive substitution out of the the system.

Elimination of substitution might be one KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for the next strategic plan. Achieving a single customer and producer agreed QA system might be another.

Industry Cohesion and Unity

We require an industry that is internally and externally conhesive and united, one that develops appropriate partnerships and nurtures its members.

An internally cohesive industry is one where there is unity on policy positions, there are agreed standards and egg producers adhere to them.

The egg industry needs to appropriately position itself in the animal welfare debate. It must 'get stuck in' be proactive and form relationships with advocacy groups so that collaboration informs elements of the welfare, code and standards debates and target debates that are relevant and winnable. Egg producers need an industry and an AECL that understands commercial reality, the benefits and costs of entering policy debates, what influences consumers and what does not and has the wisdom to stay away from internally divisive and unproductive issues.

The Egg Corporation has a great deal to learn about developing industry cohesion, unity, nurturing its members, developing standards which meet member expectations and what 'commercial reality' actually means.

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