According to Deans Foods, more than 27m eggs are eaten every day in Britain, and one in five is eaten by Londoners. But wherever you are, the chances are high that the eggs on your breakfast table are supplied by this Hertfordshire company.

Deans claims to be Britain’s leading producer, supplier and marketer of free-range eggs. It packs 40m eggs each week, and also supplies liquid eggs and blends to food makers, and omelettes and scrambled eggs to caterers. It also sells compound feed to other egg, chicken and pig producers.

Deans was first established in 1938 as a small family farm business, but was acquired in 1969 by Dalgety, the agriculture and food business. Over the next 20 years Dalgety expanded the business, adding Sainsbury Spillers production facilities in 1981 and Goldenlay in 1988.

In 1991 a management buyout returned the firm to the Dean family, and Deans Foods was established in 1997 with the acquisition of two other egg-processing companies.

Sales have risen steadily from £80m since then, reaching a high of £336.8m in 2004, when operating profits topped £8m. Chief executive and owner Peter Dean plays down the strong year, explaining that a rise in hen-feed prices led to inflation in egg prices, which has flattered the company’s turnover, and he predicts that sales will decline over the coming year.

Nevertheless, the firm has completed a deal to market the eggs of fellow producer Freshlay, adding them to its stable of brands that include Columbus omega 3 eggs, Big & Fresh and Corngold.

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Company details
Year2005
Rank1
CompanyNoble Foods
ActivityEgg products manufacturer
LocationHertfordshire
Sales £m336.8
Operating profit £m8.2
Main shareholdersPeter Dean (93%)
Staff2,493
Founded1938
Websitewww.noblefoods.co.uk

If applicable:

* supplied by Company   † annualised figure   ‡  profit = ebitda