RETAIL DEMAND remains so high that the foodservice sector may struggle to source eggs when it does reopen.

Almost 10 weeks into the UK’s lockdown and egg markets remain tight.

Sainsbury’s is the latest retailer to say it may import free-range eggs to meet its requirements, while Lidl has been buying Dutch barn egg to supplement Lion colony.

Wholesale prices have not eased from their current two-year highs on free-range (and are even higher for colony) as supermarkets suck up any eggs available.

“It’s still very short, and still all about retail,” said the Central Egg Agency’s Andy Crossland.

The major packers were still effectively allocating eggs rather than fulfilling orders, he explained.

“There are retailers knocking on other packers’ doors looking for more eggs. It’s still quite a way off the supply chain being filled again, and this is without foodservice and wholesale.”

Mr Crossland wasn’t certain that this retail demand would necessarily ease back when the catering sector started to move again: “I think consumption has probably gone up.”

Although there were one or two green shoots with businesses thinking about opening, it was “going to be difficult to fill that pipeline as well, with the current demand at retail level”.

“Hopefully this will help drive the industry on to get a better return for the product, and be able to pass that on to producers.”

Very little was now going on with new builds, he pointed out. “If we are going to achieve this target of 2025 for coming out of colony, then there’s a lot to be done.”