Balvicar egg farm cracks box shortage

Connie Macaskill and Ali Flint on Seil where egg boxes have been in short supply down on Balvicar Farm.

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When egg farmers on Seil ran out of boxes it was no yolk!

With 3,000 of the award-winning eggs laid daily, Argyll Free Range Eggs at Balvicar had to crack the problem quick.

Lockdown restrictions took its toll on mills making paper to turn into cardboard to transform into cartons, ink producers for the labels were also impacted – leaving the country short of boxes and the farm scrambling to find a solution.

After an almost ‘eggsaustive’ search, a box supplier was finally sourced but the cartons came ready-printed with a cartoon of a kilted hen pipeband.

To put their own stamp on the temporary boxes, although some customers like the new ones so much they want them kept forever, the business has been adding its own personalised labels laying claim to the contents.

Connie Macaskill, whose family run Argyll Free Range Eggs, said: ‘The henpipe boxes certainly stand out. In fact they’re impossible to miss on the shelf. Some people have even needed persuading they’re actually our eggs but they definitely are! We’ve had to stick on our own little labels  – all by hand!’

Summer is usually peak season for the Macaskill’s with busy hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and cafes putting in big orders, but with COVID-19 curtailing  tourism, the business is having to go the extra mile, quite literally, to sell the eggs – which have not lessened in number.

‘We’ve had to sell them cheaper and go quite far to sell them all. One thing COVID hasn’t changed is the number of eggs still being laid!’ said Connie.

Connie’s mum Flo Macaskill started the business in 1994 with just 30 hens, now there are 3,000 of them each laying one egg a day. Flo was joined by husband Ewen when he retired from teaching English at Oban High School in 2008 and if the couple need a hand down on the farm then Connie and her partner Ali Flint are happy to help.

Looking forward to laying coronavirus to rest and the business getting back to the new normal as lockdown restrictions ease, the Macaskill’s are eggspecting busy months ahead.

CalMac is one of their biggest customers, Oban’s Etive restaurant uses the farm’s fresh eggs to make it’s world-class souffle and Oban Food Hub has just signed up to be one of its newest suppliers.