Farm-Fresh Eggs Vending Machine

An Irish free-range egg farmer has been rewarded for his ingenuity after he developed an farm-fresh egg vending machine, allowing consumers to purchase farm-fresh eggs straight from the farm.

Tom O'Brien, who runs Eggs Direct in Thrasherstown, Co Cork, received the Joint Start-up Award as part of the JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Business 2010.

The first of the vending machines is installed at Mr O'Brien's farm gate where customers driving past can purchase farm-fresh eggs.

Mr O'Brien told Poultry World the invention has been a hit locally, with 37 trays of 30 eggs being sold per day from the machine over the last four days.

"We were hoping it would do well but it really took off," Mr O'Brien said.

"Customers love it. The notion that they can get today's eggs in the carton - they can't believe it."

A further four machines will arrive from manufacturers in the next two months and will be placed in stores around the nearby city of Cork.

Mr O'Brien said he hopes to sell the entire production of his 5000 hens using solely the vending machines.

"Free-range eggs at wholesales prices, direct from the farmer is what we are looking at," he said.

The prize of £2150 which comes with Mr O'Brien's award should help offset some of the estimated £52,800 he has invested to develop and install the vending  machines.

Currently there are no plans to expand the vending machines outside of Cork.

The 2010 JFC Innovation Awards had entrants from both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic with a total of 61 farmers entering.

Overall winners were the Farrelly Brothers with a project to grow willow which can be harvested and used in small scale power generation.

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