David Humphrey, former joint managing director of Humphrey Farms Ltd. (the head company of Humphrey Feeds Ltd. and Humphrey Pullets Ltd.), died on 20th June at the age of 79.
David joined his father straight from school, running one egg farm, and when his brother Peter joined the business 5 years later, they enjoyed many years as joint managing directors.
They developed the business through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, purchasing rearing and laying farms across the south, taking the total laying bird capacity to 1.4 million laying birds, along with a growing poultry feed business. Most laying farms had cages, but investments in barn units commenced in 1982, and their first free range unit was in 1985, with more to follow in the 1990s.
In the late 1960s David became one of the youngest directors of the British Egg Marketing Board, the then promoter of the Little Lion which at the time was printed on the eggs. Later David became chairman of Thames Valley Eggs, and when that business merged with Welsh Egg Producers and Yorkshire Egg Producers and became Goldenlay, he was voted chairman of that much bigger business.
The Currie/Salmonella in eggs crisis of 1988 changed the egg market significantly, one aspect of which was, he realised, that private companies were more forward thinking and swifter to change direction than coops. In 1991 the business changed direction; investing in Stonegate Farmers Ltd, and built a joint venture packing centre at Twyford. David joined Stonegate’s board as non-executive director, a position he maintained for over 10 years.
David was also involved with the NFU, sitting on first the local poultry committee, then joining the national NFU Poultry Committee (the forerunner of today’s NFU Poultry Board). At the end of the 90s he took on the chairman’s role for two years, handing over the chair to Charles Bourns when he stood down.
In his time in the family business, David was also involved with broiler production, when the broiler business supplied Webbs Country Feeds, and also had a brief involvement in a joint venture with a pig breeding company.
David left the family business in September 2001 yet continued to take an on-going interest in the poultry sector, visiting Oaklands only a couple of years ago to witness advances in colony production and robotic egg packing. He remained proud of the development of the business, with the expansion of the specialist feed business and the growth of the pullets business.
He leaves Sue, his wife of 57 years, 3 sons, 7 grandsons and 1 greatgrandson.