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70% of free-range egg farmers could exit sector if prices don’t improve

picture of laying hens

NEW survey data has suggested that most free-range egg producers are thinking about exiting the sector if farmgate prices do not improve.

Members of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) were asked if they would restock with hens after the end of their current flock.

See also: Inflation puts egg farmers on ‘brink of bankruptcy’

The survey said 51% of farmers are “seriously considering” stopping production until the price they are paid improves.

A further 18% said they would make their decisions at the end of their current flock.

And more than 70% said they would leave egg production within a year if a price rise wasn’t forthcoming.

Inflation

Egg producers have been hit with massive hikes in production costs.

Feeding hens is now 50% more expensive, and energy prices have risen 40%.

Spending on fuel has grown by 30%, while labour and packaging also cost more than they did six months ago.

But Bfrepa said the UK’s biggest supermarkets have yet to increase the price of free-range and organic eggs to a level where many farms can break even.

Cost increases

The organisation’s chief executive, Robert Gooch, said: “There are clear and obvious cost increases being heaped upon farmers, and retailers simply aren’t sufficiently adjusting the retail price.

Any increases being made are too little and too slow. They are suffocating businesses.

“This is nothing more than supermarkets putting cheap food marketing tactics above the needs of the primary producer.

“We’ve asked every major retailer to increase the price of free-range eggs by at least 40p/dozen – organic eggs need an increase closer to 80p/dozen.

Losing money

“Only two retailers had the decency to acknowledge our request, and not one has done enough to meet the additional costs of producing eggs during this crisis.

“Many of my members are losing money on every egg laid, and our data shows that even those who are making a small profit do not see a long-term future.

“The appetite for eggs from the public is extraordinary, but I’m afraid we will see shortages of British free-range and organic eggs on the shelves before long.”