UK egg production is now back to the levels of around two years ago, and the recent supply shortages have significantly eased.

As the market heads into the summer period, traditionally a less buoyant time of year, wholesale prices have drifted backwards and retailers are finding adequate supplies.

See also: ONS reveals latest poultrymeat and egg retail inflation

Colony prices at wholesale have slipped the most, and are down around 35p/doz since March on Large eggs. 

Free-range has held up better, and Large eggs are down about 15p/doz over the same period.

According to the latest data from Defra, packing station throughput from all systems in the first quarter was up by 14.4 million dozen compared with the first three months of last year, when the laying flock was at its lowest point, marking a net increase of 6.3%.

Production levels

Direct comparisons with earlier periods are not possible since Defra has “changed its methodology” from the start of 2023.  

However, a reasonable estimate is that production in the first quarter was back to the level of the second quarter of 2022.

More recently, during April and into this month, the laying flock is likely to have expanded again as birds have come into lay following the higher pullet placings made at the end of last year.

‘More egg around’

These trends are borne out by trading conditions at the Central Egg Agency, where Andy Crossland said that there seemed to be a bit more egg around. 

“It’s started to weaken a little, you sense that demand is just not quite there. We are high on numbers in lay at the moment.” 

The Continental market had also fallen back, adding to price pressures.

Free range

“Free-range has stood up reasonably well, although it has come back a bit. There’s more around, and we have seen a bit more on offer.

“Surprisingly, there is more colony than there has been. A bit of restocking has gone on.”

He believed that colony bird numbers had risen from just below 7m to just below 8m, and part of that colony increase was a move by packers to keep eggs on the shelves at retail level, while the trade was in transition to next year’s move away from colony eggs in the supermarkets.