A NORTH Yorkshire free range egg supplier and its team of 54 staff has been acquired by big four supermarket Morrisons.

The Yorkshire supermarket chain, based in Bradford, said the acquisition of Chippindale Foods, meant that Morrisons would make even more of its own fresh food and become “more competitive for customers on important everyday products”.

Nick Chippindale, managing director at Chippindale Foods, will stay with the business and the 54 staff employed at the site at Flaxby, between York and Knaresborough, and all will become Morrisons colleagues.

The move is set to bring forward the date at which all Morrisons eggs will come from non-caged hens from the current commitment of 2025.

Morrisons is already the largest supermarket customer for British farmers and makes most of its own fresh food in 17 manufacturing sites and 491 stores, including bakery, seafood, meat, fruit & veg, flowers and chilled processed products.

The addition of the Chippindale Foods business will enable Morrisons to work closely with egg farmers to support a sustainable supply chain, the welfare of hens and the quality of their eggs.

Andrew Thornber, Morrisons manufacturing director, said: “The addition of Chippindale Foods to our fresh food manufacturing business will give us the opportunity to build on our deep relationships with British farmers and become even more competitive for our supermarket and wholesale customers.”

Last year Chippendale Foods stepped up production by one million eggs a week as it worked to supply locally-sourced eggs to Sainsburys, Morrisons, Co-op, Booths, Aldi and Lidl from its purpose-built 55,000sq ft low carbon egg-packing facility.

Mr Chippindale said at the time the 15 per cent production growth in the first quarter of the year was down to increased consumer demand and a five-year programme of investment.

In 2013 the business opened its new site at Flaxby having made the decision to invest £5 million in a new egg-packing facility to increase capacity.

The facility sources 50 per cent of its electricity from solar energy generated on site and has the capacity to handle more than six million eggs a week.