There is a rumour going around that the major retailers are already looking at importing eggs, especially if the possibility of a severe contraction of the UK supply comes about, given the dire warning of producers giving up if prices they are paid do not increase substantially.
Import of Polish eggs is the main subject of these rumours, and there may be some truth in the matter.
Although EU eggs have been subject to similar production cost increases, they, nevertheless, are still low enough to encourage importation.
Imports in the last year were 31% higher than pre=pandemic levels.
But, there is no shortage at the moment. We have plenty of good eggs being produced here at home, and it is their duty to reward the producers better to maintain that supply.
Two Laid in Britain producers, after dialogue with their customers, have replaced flocks in anticipation of better things ahead.
Examination of supermarket prices at the end of May, show only slight improvement. It is to be hoped that they will cut into their margins to find the desired prices rise to producers.
A large number of lines have not increased at all. The prevailing increase is of the order of 20p/dozen and the few better ones actually go to the 40p asked for by the industry. But, on examination, these tend to be niche lines such as Burford Browns, white-shelled eggs, etc. Even organic do not get the full 40p increase.
Similarly, packer-producer prices appear to be mostly around the 20p/dozen mark, a help, but not a life-saver.
Order for replacement pullets are down by as much as 20%, and producers ordering know they will have to pay in the event of cancellation.
AI continues to be rampant in Europe and Belgium has allowed it’s organic producers to substitute 5% of conventional materials in organic feed, due to the supply problems from Ukraine. This licence is to last 12 months.
In the USA, 38 million layers have been culled because of AI outbreaks. This led to a 1% drop in egg yield in March, followed by a further 3% in April.
Egg prices have already risen by 7% and are calculated to be as much as 21% by the end of the year.
Whilst not fulfilling their 40p requirements of the producers, several supermarkets continue to stock eggs from caged hens, which offer good quality food to families facing hardship.
Tesco have boxes (mixed sizes) x 6 for 95p (16p/egg). They also have mixed x 15 @ £1.29 (excellent 9p/egg) and Big n Fresh large cage eggs x 10 @ £1.90 (18p/egg).
Asda are stocking 15 x Smart price eggs from caged hens at £1.29 (8.6p/egg – V. good).
They also have Large Big n Fresh x 6 @ £1.45 (24p/egg) and Big Eggs x 10 @ £1.95 (19.5p/egg). Not such good bargains overall, but they make some amends with a Happy Egg FR pack of 15 @ £2.50 (16.7p/egg).
Collectively, the major retailers manage to stock 19 lines where each egg is over 40p.
Not surprisingly, Waitrose generally have the most expensive eggs, with seven lines offering eggs at 45 – 59p each.
We would expect these prices to be fairly fluid, and, hopefully, we shall see more rises in the coming weeks, with further movement to producers.
By selling direct, Laid in Britain producers can pitch just below supermarket prices, thus appealing to the customer, whilst at the same time, reaping preferential terms compared to those selling through the middle-man, the packer.