THE British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has challenged retailers that continue importing eggs to meet supermarket shelves shortfalls.
It said both consumers and British farmers “deserve better” than retailers stocking imported fresh shell eggs, highlighting the safety record of British eggs.
Sainsbury’s is reportedly still listing Italian barn eggs from the Atlante brand, and has previously cited shortfalls in UK production.
It first stocked the barn eggs during the covid pandemic before restocking in the Autumn of last year when the UK’s laying hen flock declined in size because of sector unprofitability.
Poultry.Network’s most recent egg market report put the output from UK packing stations at a new low between January-March this year, averaging 15.5 million dozen per week during the quarter.
Though there are signs of recovery – with pullet rearers reportedly placing chicks at capacity – there is still some way to go before the sector recovers.
The Times reported this week from FierAvicola, a large poultry trade show in Italy. One seminar described the egg sector as in “good shape”, with prices up 10% and sales up 12% last year.
“Over in the UK, supermarkets did not increase the prices they offered to local producers, who reduced production, creating a shortfall the market did not expect,” Sirio Lionello, the president of Eurovo, Italy’s largest egg producer, told the Times.
Gian Luca Bagnara, head of the Italian industry association Assoavi, added: “The difference in Italy is that producers complained to the government, which invoked an EU rule prohibiting supermarkets from paying below cost price. That rule helped keep us in business.”
A spokesperson for the BEIC said: “Consumers deserve better than this, as do the British farmers who have invested millions in ensuring that British Lion eggs are the safest in the world.
“The British Egg Industry Council warned more than a year ago that unless retailers were prepared to help producers with the unprecedented costs of production they were facing, then production would be curtailed.
“This is exactly what has happened, and now consumers are facing the consequences.
“We are extremely proud of the high standards of the independently audited British Lion Code of Practice, and we urge retailers who have chosen to stock imported eggs to make it absolutely clear that the imported eggs need to be thoroughly cooked and cannot safely be eaten runny by young children, the elderly or during pregnancy.”