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Second lockdown gives free-range egg prices a boost

THE ARRIVAL of the second lockdown has further reinforced the tale of two markets this year in the egg trade.

While the colony sector has taken another hard knock on the wholesale trade, free-range prices have remained buoyant as the emphasis in the economy at large swings sharply back to retail.

See also: More poultrymeat, egg and feed market data

Earlier, the colony sector was staging a tentative recovery at the wholesale level, as hospitality businesses began to get back on their feet during the summer.

But as the accompanying chart shows, prices have now plunged again to reach a three-year low.

“The demand’s just not been there for colony eggs,” said Andy Crossland at the CEA. “The Continent’s been awash with them as well, so it’s been a bit of a bloodbath.”

‘Jumpy’

“People are very jumpy about what they buy, and what they’re going to be able to sell on the wholesale front.

Processors were very quiet for the time of year, he added.

“There’s seconds available, which is never usually the case in October/ November for Christmas processing.

“The Smalls market has never really recovered from the first lockdown.”

The boiling egg sector was particularly quiet, he noted.

By contrast, demand for free-range has firmed again, and especially for Large – popular in supermarkets – which in turn has now nudged wholesale prices to a new high for 2020 (see chart).

“A lot of the egg has transferred from wholesale and foodservice into retail, but probably much more in free-range,” he concluded.