Mini eggs to be sold in supermarkets for first time to cut down on food waste, Waitrose announces

Helena Horton
Pullet eggs are half - 2/3rds of the size of regular sized eggs - Waitrose

Miniature eggs are going to be sold for the first time on supermarket shelves in a bid to reduce food waste, Waitrose has announced.

The retailer will be the first to stock pullet eggs, which are laid by young birds which lay eggs around a third of the size of those produced by older chickens.

Farmers often have to waste these eggs - or use them in their own kitchens - as they fall foul of the size regulations set by supermarkets.

According to food delivery service Farmdrop, up to 10 per cent of every egg farmer’s stock is thrown away because the eggs are too small.

Andrew Jackson from Haresfield Farm, who sells his pullet eggs through Farmdrop, told The Telegraph that the product is getting more popular. 

He added: "In winter, the pullets lay fewer smaller eggs when coming into lay so we can sometimes sell all of the pullet eggs to our customers without downgrading any into processing (we use them in our farm-made mayonnaise if we have surplus too!)

"But summer flocks lay more small eggs as they come into lay faster - pullets that come into lay quickly in summer need more time/nutrition to grow and mature fully into adult hens and therefore lay more small eggs at the onset of lay."

As many as 1.5 million of these small eggs are thrown away each year as it is thought consumers do not like them - but they are highly in demand by chefs who prize them for their high yolk to white ratio.

Zoe Simons, Development Chef at Waitrose & Partners said:, “Pullet eggs are a chef's dream especially when it comes to pastry. Thanks to their smaller nature they hold their shape a lot better which makes them idea for poaching. 

"The yolks have a wonderful deep colour and rich flavour, making them perfect for mayonnaise or pastry such as a lemon tart or creme brûlée.”

Chef Robin Gill who runs The Dairy in Clapham often uses the smaller eggs on his menu.

He told The Telegraph: "I have used them in the past especially for smaller dishes, if you are having an egg as an accompaniment from them, they're a step up from a quail egg. 

"I did a dressed crab with toasted herbs and a small egg and it feels a little more luxurious than a quail egg. It's a nice in between size. 

"We always have an egg dish on the menu, whether it was a snack or a dish based around an egg, a pullet egg would be perfect for that. 

"I find the yolk can be a little bit richer than a normal hen's egg. They hold together better and are easier to deal with for deviled eggs for example."

Ivan Tisdall-Downes, the head chef at Native restaurant in London said it is "madness" that most of these eggs are thrown away. 

He added: "They are almost perfectly round so not your usual egg shape and quite amazing to look at.

 "They are too small to conform to the rules and regulations of the supermarket industry but we use them all the time.

"Only small farmers markets and some chefs would sell them but on an industrial scale they'd be thrown away. It's a complete pointless amount of waste, you don't have to change your cooking at all to use them, you just use more. 

"It's a no-brainer, and hard to think of why people wouldn't use them.

"We have been letting supermarkets tell us what should and shouldn't be eaten. If we are told the eggs aren't perfect people won't buy them which is mad."

Clarence Court Pullet Eggs will be available at 79 Waitrose & Partners shops and will be priced at £1.99 for a pack of four.