The British Egg Marketing Board was set up in 1957 to buy all eggs produced in the UK, grade them to a national standard, stamp a "Little Lion" on the egg as a mark of quality, and market those eggs through registered packhouses. A pool price was paid to producers for all first quality eggs, and second quality and sample eggs were broken out for industrial use. The Board deducted a levy from producers, based on the number of eggs sent to packhouses, for its administration and to support Research, Education, PR and Advertising (such as "Go to Work on an Egg"). It was disbanded in 1969 as it became unpopular with larger producers who wanted a free market.
The British Egg Marketing Board Research and Education Trust was then created with a capital sum of approximately £550,000 which had been set aside to fund the continuation of the beneficial work that had been carried out in research and education by the former Board.
The BEMB Trust also inherited the land and buildings which constituted the Poultry Husbandry Experimental Unit at Harper Adams Agricultural College. For the next 20 years the Trust directed approximately one third of its income to the Unit. In 1991 the Unit was donated in its entirety to Harper Adams University College.
When the Trust was set up in 1971 the capital sum of £550,000 (sic) produced an annual income of about £40,000 which contrasts with the present situation where the portfolio has been built up to approximatly £1,500,000 from which the Trust takes a net income of £60,000 each year. (Interest rates were much higher in the early 70s). It should be stated that the only form of income the Trust has is from its investments, all deriving from the initial capital sum plus a further £165,775 received in September 2000 as a result of the demise of the former Eggs Authority. During this 28-year period a total of well over £1,700,000 has been given to the industry for research and education.
With regard to research, funds have been given to many Institutions and Colleges to finance egg related products and today the Trust is virtually the only organisation supporting work of this nature in the various centres of learning. Recently the Trust has given steadfast support to work which it is hoped will lead to an effective treatment against the scourge of poultry red mite.
As far as education is concerned, it has been the constant policy of the Trust to sponsor PhD students in egg related subjects. Until quite recently the Trust was sponsoring 2 new PhD students each year. However the rising cost of supporting a PhD student, coupled with the fact that the study period has extended from 3 to 4 years in length, has meant that now only one new student every second year is taken on. Many of these students, after receiving their PhD, used to continue in a career of poultry research and ultimately become the eminent scientists of the future. Now, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult for qualified PhDs to find a suitable position within the industry.
A Nuffield Farming Scholarship has been financed each year for the study of a subject connected with egg production or marketing. This pays for a minimum of 8 weeks abroad studying the chosen aspect and then, in return, the Scholar produces a report on his/her findings which is then published. The poultry Scholars thus supported have formed themselves into a group and it is estimated that two thirds of the industry is represented within that gathering.
The Trust consists of 3 nominated Trustees and 3 co-opted Trustees (one of whom should be an eminent poultry scientist) and a Secretary/Administrator. All Trustees serve a 3-year term but are eligible for re-election if they wish.