With the opening of the largest holding complex for cage-free laying hens in the Baltics, Balticovo significantly increases the proportion of eggs laid in henhouses, becoming the largest producer of cage-free eggs in the Baltics. The new henhouse provides three floors of free space for the chickens to roam around. One henhouse produces 40 million eggs per year (marked category 2), and even though the majority of the produced volumes are sold in export markets, the local consumption in the Baltics of category 2 eggs has increased by 25% over the past three years. Increased local demand is the first step towards egg production without using the cage system.
During the official opening event guests had the opportunity to look inside one of the new hen holdings, which will shortly house 133,000 birds. The new plants have been built using the latest solutions in construction and poultry farming. The total investments for the project exceed 10 million euros, and the project has been implemented in two years. The complex consists of one poulet holding and three houses for laying hens with a total production capacity of 120 million eggs per year.
Valdis Grimze, Chairman of the Board of Balticovo: “With our new henhouses or apartment blocks, as we could call them, because the chickens can move around on three floors, we have implemented a European level project that raises the egg production industry in Latvia to a new level. We are glad to be able to implement it now when technology and knowledge has come a long way and we can now make use of the latest equipment, which is highly rated even at European level.”
“This is a great day for Iecava, Latvia and the whole Baltic region. Although we see that demand in Latvia for cage-free eggs is still lower than it is abroad, local demand is growing nonetheless. In our export markets, demand for quality products that are produced sustainably is increasing quite rapidly. If a couple of years ago we saw that a greater volume of cage-free eggs was needed in the export markets, then at the moment we are witnessing a steep increase in demand for such products as boiled eggs and liquid egg products,” Toms Auškāps, Head of Communication and Development at Balticovo, explains.
“It has to be noted, though, that there is still a long way to go to egg production without the cage system at all, as the demand for category 3 eggs is still the highest in Latvia, as well as outside of Europe and in some places within Europe. Outside of Europe the majority of eggs consumed are category 3. This can be considered a positive step, which means that the Latvian egg production industry as a whole is developing. Looking ahead, Balticovo plans to continue building new cage-free holdings, for example, next year we will open our second large-scale cage-free holding for 20,000 birds with 8 hectares of walking space,” Toms Auškāps adds.
Kaspars Gerhards, Minister of Agriculture has praised the company’s vision on sustainability and socially responsible production: “Local producers in Latvia are the ones who are shaping and maintaining the stability of the local market, providing fresh, quality and safe local products for the population of Latvia, whilst significantly contributing to the national economy. I am happy to see local businesses continuing to grow and develop, introducing modern approaches and technologies, thus making local food products ever more available to all consumers in Latvia and in external markets. Furthermore, today more and more focus is being placed on food safety and animal, bird welfare issues, therefore the producer’s vision for sustainable and socially responsible operations is especially commendable.”
Juris Pūce, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development emphasised the importance of the investments made by Balticovo: “It is a pleasure that Latvia is home to the largest producer in Northern Europe who has chosen to invest at a time when many other companies have suspended their investments due to the global pandemic. It is 10 million worth of investments in Latvia's economy, growth and export capacity.”
The contribution to the industry of the new complex, as well as Balticovo’s progress towards production methods that are friendlier to the animals and environment was also appreciated by Ģirts Krūmiņš, Director of the Rural Support Service, Anna Ērliha, Executive Director of the Latvian Egg and Poultry Producers’ Association, and Aivars Mačeks, Chairman of the Iecava County Council.
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