Strong results for Cumbria's Lakes Free Range Egg Company
One of Cumbria's best known food companies has recorded a strong set of results - but the man in charge has warned of challenging times ahead.
The Lakes Free Range Egg Company - which is based at Stainton, near Penrith - saw a growth in turnover and pre-tax profits.
David Brass, who owns the firm along with his wife Helen, has said Brexit, the falling pound and the living wag could all have an impact on future performance.
The firm's latest set of accounts filed - which cover the year to October 31 and have just been filed with Companies House - show that it made a pre-tax profit of £1.3 million, up from £969,208 in the previous year.
Turnover also grew to just less than £24m. In 2015 it was £21.2m.
Mr Brass estimates that the firm packs about 1m eggs every day and
He said: "To some extent we are just in the right place - the egg market grew by five per cent last year and the free range market grew by eight per cent."
Eggs as a source of food are growing in popularity among almost every age group.
"People are being advised to feed them to babies because they are a good source of protein and also for people in their 20s because they can feel full all day," Mr Brass said, adding that they are also recommended to people in their 50s and 60s because of the protein and other nutrients they contain.
"In the 1970s and 80s people said do not eat eggs because they full of protein. Now even the British Heart Foundation is saying we should eat eggs because the cholesterol they contain is 'good' cholesterol."
It now employs 90 people and its customers include Booths, Tesco and Sainbury's as well as McDonald's. About 70 per cent of its poultry-keepers keep chickens in Cumbria or southern Scotland it has others from as far affield as Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Mr Brass has some worries about the future following the Brexit vote.
"We feed the chickens wheat and soya and we pay for both of those in dollars and all of the machinery we buy is paid for in Euros," he said.
"The exchange rate has hit us really hard."
He also estimated that about 30 per cent of the company's staff are EU migrant labour and he is unsure if they will remain in Britain after Brexit.
Mr Brass also pointed out the need for clarity over animal welfare laws, many of which have been set at an EU level.
He welcomed the news announced this week that chickens will no longer have to behoused or enclosed in netting, after experts decided the level the risk of bird had reduced, though he also said there was a need to think about how the issue was tackled in the future.
Mr Brass added: "I think the industry will keep expanding and we will keep expanding."