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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets here has reportedly sold its egg farm, which had become a lightning rod for controversy over its alleged treatment of hens. The family-owned chain said increased egg market competition prompted the sale.
Wegmans had owned the farm in Wolcott, N.Y. for 40 years. The buyer, Clarence, N.Y.-based egg producer Kreher's Poultry Farms, acquired it for an undisclosed amount, according to a report in the Buffalo News.
Kreher’s will retain the Wayne County location as well as the farm's employees, including members of the Wadsworth family, which has run the site since it opened in 1967, partner Kurt Kreher, told the newspaper.
Wegmans will continue to receive its private label eggs from the Wolcott farm, added Kreher, whose business already supplies the retailer with eggs sold under the Eggland's Best brand.
Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale told the newspaper that the grocer sold the egg farm because of recent consolidation in the egg industry that would have forced the company to increase egg production beyond its own needs.
Considered the largest egg farm in the state, the Wolcott farm has 750,000 chickens and processes an average of 600,000 eggs daily.
Animal rights advocacy Compassionate Consumers has alleged inhumane treatment of chickens at the facility. Wegmans has denied the allegations, and has prosecuted members of the group for trespassing on the farm.
In other Wegmans news, the company said it anticipates that more of its shoppers than ever will avail themselves of the prepared holiday dinners offered at its stores, especially at Thanksgiving.
"This is the way more and more families celebrate Thanksgiving and other holidays," noted Dave Drury, Wegmans' senior category merchant for deli cold cuts and cheese, in a statement. "Since I began working in this department about 10 years ago, the number of precooked holiday dinners we sell has grown about four times over. I anticipate another 30 percent increase this year over last year."
Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday for the prepared dinners, added Drury, followed by Easter, and then by holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's.