SEPTEMBER has brought with it an improved egg market, with better demand for smaller grades in particular.

Despite the difficult trading conditions, the trade witnessed the usual seasonal upturn signalled by the end of the holiday period and the start of the new term.

See also: New league table to reveal free-range egg farmgate prices

At wholesale, free-range prices have remained steady for the larger sizes while Mediums and Smalls, which are popular in the foodservice and manufacturing markets, have gained up to 15p/doz.

Meanwhile, in the colony sector, prices across the board have strengthened by some 10-12p/doz.

“It’s started getting quite busy, and we’re seeing the usual September supply chain fill-up,” confirmed CEA’s Andy Crossland.

Packers were saying that retail sales had been excellent over the past few weeks, while foodservice was “getting back into some sort of normality”, he said.

“Those orders have lifted, and there’s a lot of trading of mediums, both free-range and colony, through the foodservice sector.

“Even wholesale has got a little bit busier, and with the continental egg firming as well, prices have been able to move on.”

He continued: “It does tend to fade away a bit towards the end of September, but it’s very difficult to predict anything at the moment.

The ride could get a bit bumpier during the coming weeks with the tightening of pandemic restrictions again.

Also, the recent pattern of day-old pullet placings indicates an increasing flock size over the next three months (see chart above), bringing more smaller eggs on to the market.

For now, Mr Crossland would welcome the smaller eggs: “Although the boiling market is not one that’s really recovered to pre-lockdown levels, it’s getting a bit better, and we’re actually looking for smalls, so it’ll be nice to see when they appear.