Organisation - January 17, 2019

Why there are no eggs

Vincent Oostvogels

In the previous Resource, my fellow columnist Guido Camps highlighted WUR’s successful publicity for the announcement of its new Dutch banana. Since then, I have been seeing communication strategies everywhere I look and I have learnt to appreciate the good ones. I now realize an effective communication strategy adds something. Even if it is only about empty supermarket shelves.

Lidl has been selling Kipster eggs for nearly six months now. You may know them: white eggs in a blue container from a Limburg farm that claims to be the most ‘animal-, human- and environmentally friendly in the world’. The Kipster concept was inspired by Wageningen research and it is often seen as a shining example of circular agriculture. Anyway, the eggs were gone last week.

Fortunately there was a sign. The first batch of laying hens had been replaced by a second batch. The Kipster eggs would be back once they started laying. That’s reassuring of course, but my point is that little bit of explanation. The brief bonus exposition on the production cycle of a laying hen. There must have been people standing in front of that shelf and wondering — perhaps for the first time — how it all works.

They would not have to search far for the answer, as Kipster has explained in great detail on social media how they capture, transport and slaughter their chickens. That degree of transparency may not be new or unique but it deserves mention. Guido is right that good communication about science is priceless. So is telling the whole story behind an everyday product, in my opinion.

Vincent Oostvogels (22) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences